Album Review – Cronaxia / Collapsing The Outer Structure (2018)

After two decades of their inception, this talented Portuguese Death Metal squad is finally unleashing upon humanity their pulverizing and very technical debut opus.

Born in the distant year of 1997 in the capital city Lisbon, Portuguese Death Metal horde Cronaxia has been fighting for extreme music in the fantastic Portuguese underground scene since their inception, never giving up despite all their struggles to find the right musicians and finally solidify their lineup and sound through the years. Currently a trio consisting of Sérgio on vocals and Renato and Filipe on the guitars, Cronaxia recruited bassist Alex Ribeiro and drummer Rolando Barros (both from Portuguese Brutal Death Metal/Grindcore band Grog) now in 2018 to give life to their first full-length album, a pulverizing and very technical lesson in Death Metal titled Collapsing the Outer Structure, highly recommended for fans of bands like early Kataklysm, Morbid Angel and Deeds Of Flesh.

Mixed and mastered by Paulo Vieira, known for his production work with Ironsword and Ravensire, Collapsing The Outer Structure is a work that walks the tightrope between genius and insanity, with songs like the jagged, restless “Dimension Ratio” being a vivid explosion of mind warping ideas. Immersed within these eight conceptual whirlwinds, the feeling is akin to having the secrets of the universe downloaded directly to your cerebral cortex in a fraction of a second. Bewildering yet incredible, almost too much to comprehend, you will find few listening experiences as overwhelming and intense as Collapsing The Outer Structure. It may have taken Cronaxia two decades to reach this defining moment, but now that their planets have aligned the force that has been unleashed is momentous and breathtaking.

In the title-track Collapsing the Outer Structure we already face total devastation in less than five seconds, with Rolando living up to the legacy of classic stone crushers of Death Metal while frontman Sérgio growls and barks like a rabid beast, sounding frantic and furious from start to finish. If this brutal welcome card is not enough for your metallic ears, Cronaxia don’t waste a single second and keep hammering our heads with their ruthless music in Logarithmic Cavitation, an insanely violent, heavy and extreme display of underground music made in Portugal where Felipe and Renato are in total sync with their lancinating riffs and solos, followed by The Core Condition, another brutish and demolishing hymn showcasing thunderous bass lines by Alex while the vocal lines get deeper and more demented than before, sounding and feeling as dense as Extreme Metal can be but also being very technical and polished. And get ready to be smashed by Cronaxia and their sharp and cataclysmic Death Metal in Dimension Ratio, where Rolando fires some sick blast beast and fills while Felipe and Renato continue to extract complex and demonic sounds and tones from their guitars.

The awesome Continuous Signal brings forward a pulverizing atmosphere crafted by the band, being tailored for fans of the early days of Cannibal Corpse with a fresh twist, not to mention Sérgio never gets tired of vociferating rabidly and deeply. Then it’s time for a galloping and demented composition titled Embryonic Reanimation, led by the bestial drumming by Rolando while Felipe and Renato show no mercy for their guitars (neither for our necks), whereas their second to last onrush of gruesome and very technical and melodic sounds comes in the form of Plasmatech, crushing our senses with its metallic riffs and unstoppable blast beats. Put differently, what a devastating (and absolutely awesome) Death Metal extravaganza by Cronaxia, with highlights to Sérgio’s cavernous growls. Hence, if you’re still alive after such demented level of aggression and dexterity by Cronaxia you’ll have your ears and mind decimated by Tangential Threshold, offering six minutes of deep guttural gnarls, nonstop beats and extremely sharp and acid riffs, or in other words, a lesson in Progressive and Technical Death Metal, ending the album in a rumbling, neck-breaking and somewhat esoteric manner.

In order to have your ears smashed by Cronaxia, simply go to Spotify to listen to Collapsing The Outer Structure in its entirety, and if their music makes your blood boil as expected, you should definitely show them your utmost support by following them on Facebook, subscribing to their YouTube channel, and grabbing your copy of the album from their BandCamp page, from the Lusitania Music webstore, from Amazon or from Discogs. By doing that, you’ll prove you have what it takes to “collapse the outer structure” together with this talented Portuguese squad in the name of Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Dimension Ratio, Continuous Signal and Plasmatech.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Lusitanian Music

Track listing
1. Collapsing the Outer Structure 2:07
2. Logarithmic Cavitation 4:03
3. The Core Condition 4:11
4. Dimension Ratio 3:43
5. Continuous Signal 3:34
6. Embryonic Reanimation 3:02
7. Plasmatech 4:39
8. Tangential Threshold 6:03

Band members
Sérgio – vocals
Felipe – guitars, vocals
Renato – guitars, vocals

Guest musicians
Alex Ribeiro – bass (session)
Rolando Barros – drums (session)

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Album Review – Beyond Carnage / Profane Sounds Of The Flesh EP (2018)

Aiming at creating a heavy and apocalyptic noise, with their old school Death Metal inspirations generating a filthy and powerful landscape, here comes a promising Portuguese horde crushing us all with their pulverizing debut opus.

Founded in the year of 2015 in the Portuguese capital Lisbon under the name Extreme Carnage, the pulverizing Death Metal five-piece horde known as Beyond Carnage has just released their debut opus, a five-track EP entitled Profane Sounds Of The Flesh, conceived with the aim to create a heavy and apocalyptic noise, with their old school Death Metal inspirations generating a filthy and powerful landscape. Having two of its tracks strongly inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft as well as European pagan legends, while the rest of the EP relies on an apocalyptic vision with a blackened atmosphere trapped in a paradox of organized chaos, Profane Sounds Of The Flesh is an amazingly aggressive welcome card by Beyond Carnage, accrediting the band as one of the most interesting new names of the Portuguese extreme music scene.

And the band comprised of vocalist João Colosso, guitarists Luís Correia and João Amado, bassist Inês Coelho and drummer Luis Abreu waste no time in their quest for Death Metal, as it’s time for total devastation with this talented Portuguese act to the sound of the opening track Infectious Parasitic Fungal God, with João Colosso almost vomiting the lyrics with his cavernous growls, while the band’s guitar duo will crush your spine with their demented riffs, bringing pure old school Death Metal for your avid ears. Then in the mid-tempo, demonic tune titled Necro Wizard, simply break your goddamn neck to the sluggish beats by Luis and the heavy and scorching guitar riffs, with Inês adding her personal dosage of obscurity to the music with her low-tuned bass.

And the band offers more of their straightforward Death Metal in Curse Of The Burning Rain, pounding their instruments like creatures of the dark, with the deep growls by João Colosso becoming as devilish as they can be, urging us all to slam into the pit to the sonic havoc blasted by the entire band. After such demented level of destruction, we have the even more disturbing Prophecy From A World Beyond, inspired by classic Death Metal the likes of Unleashed and Six Feet Under, with the band’s stringed trio Luis, João Amado and Inês giving a lesson in violence and gore, sounding raw and aggressive just the way we like it (not to mention João Colosso’s vile and putrid roars). And closing the album we have more of the band’s reverberating Death Metal with the song R´lyeh, Mother Of All Abominations, another killer metal feast where Luis showcases an amazing performance on drums, alternating between more rhythmic, potent beats and faster passages.

As previously mentioned, Profane Sounds Of The Flesh, available for a full listen on YouTube or on Spotify, has all the elements needed to turn it into a mandatory listen for fans of underground Death Metal, being an exciting sample of what we can expect from Bayond Carnage in the near future. In order to show those Portuguese metallers your support, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase Profane Sounds Of The Flesh directly from their BandCamp page, as well as from the Firecum Records’ webshop or from Discogs. In the end, you’ll feel disoriented and completely smashed after listening to the 25 minutes of brutality blasted by Beyond Carnage throughout the album, exactly what your metal soul was craving, as that’s what good Death Metal is all about.

Best moments of the album: Curse Of The Burning Rain and Prophecy From A World Beyond.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Firecum Records

Track listing 
1. Infectious Parasitic Fungal God 5:18
2. Necro Wizard 4:40
3. Curse Of The Burning Rain 5:07
4. Prophecy From A World Beyond 3:41
5. R´lyeh, Mother Of All Abominations 7:02

Band members
João Colosso – vocals
Luís Correia – guitars
João Amado – guitars
Inês Coelho – bass
Luis Abreu – drums

Album Review – Moonspell / 1755 (2017)

An orchestral and emotional concept album sang completely in Portuguese that will take you to the year of the horror when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.

The year of 1755 marks the year of the horror when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon, when almost 100 thousand souls lost their lives, and this tragic event is still considered one of the most disastrous catastrophes in European history and nature. Now in 2017, in remembrance of the victims and the band’s hometown, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake was turned into a vicious, rip-roaring concept album straightforwardly titled 1755, the twelfth full-length studio release by Portuguese Dark Metal masters Moonspell, an orchestral and emotional adventure sang completely in Portuguese (which gives the whole album an additional poetic touch) that will transport your mind and soul to November 1, 1755, the holy day of All Saints’ Day and the day that the earth shook like never before in Lisbon.

There are a few remarkable differences between 1755 and Moonspell’s latest releases such as Night Eternal, Alpha Noir/Omega White and especially Extinct, as the band “distanced” themselves a little from the more Gothic and melodic approach from the past decade to venture through the realms of symphonic and epic sounds, and the final result couldn’t be more breathtaking. Featuring a lavish artwork by Portuguese artist João Diogo (Dramafall), 1755 might not be an easy listen at first for newcomers to the world of Moonspell or even to longtime fans of the band who don’t know a single word in Portuguese, but the final result is so compelling, sharp and cohesive I’m sure the whole album will grow on you until it becomes a mandatory part of your day-to-day playlist.

When I first saw the tracklist for 1755 I asked myself why they added one of their old songs as the opening track of the album, but after hitting play everything made sense. Em Nome Do Medo (or “in the name of fear”) is an obscure, haunting and absolutely awesome orchestral version for their biggest classic sung in Portuguese, from their 2012 album Alpha Noir/Omega White (take a listen at the original version HERE), with highlights to the superb job done by guest musician Jon Phipps (who actually created the orchestrations for the whole album) and the insanely beautiful choir (comprised of the amazing Crystal Mountain Singers and Tristania’s own Mariangela Dermutas) that accompanies frontman Fernando Ribeiro and his piercing vocals, and that epic aura of darkness goes on in the title-track 1755, where keyboardist Pedro Paixão delivers as usual some insane keys that complement the guitar sounds flawlessly. And what to say about Ricardo Amorim’s souful guitar solo? Put differently, I simply can’t wait to witness Moonspell playing this metallic opera live. And leaning towards a more metallic, rockin’ vein we have the threatening In Tremor Dei (or “fear Of God”), presenting the band’s characteristic Dark Metal with Fernando being beautifully supported by guest vocalist Paulo Bragança (who supplies the trenchant voice of a Fado fallen angel who is a big part of the Portuguese culture), with the song’s lyrics perfectly depicting the fire, wreckage, despair and death that took over Lisbon that day.

Desastre (the Portuguese word for “disaster”) gets closer to what the band did in Night Eternal, with Fernando’s growls sounding deeper and more enraged as he screams the word “culpado” (or “guilty” in English) with all his fury. Furthermore, the beats by drummer Miguel Gaspar will hit you hard inside your mind, showing how acute the entire album is. Then orchestral elements shine in another great display of Dark Metal blended with classical music titled Abanão (which means “quake” or “shakeup”), where Pedro once again boosts the song’s epicness with his keyboards while Miguel and bassist Aires Pereira live up to the song’s name with their rumbling beats and bass punches, respectively; followed by Evento (or “event”), where Moonspell keep blending their own sonority from Night Eternal with Memorial and more intense elements from orchestral music, not to mention how its lyrics showcase the thin line between love and hate people experience with religion. It’s another one of the top moments of the album, and needless to say it should also sound fantastic if played live. And 1 De Novembro (or “1st of November”), in reference to the day the earthquake happened, brings forward a more contemporary version of Moonspell where Fernando’s voice sounds considerably different than usual and where tons of heaviness and epicness arise due to the excellent job done by Pedro and Miguel on keys and drums.

1755 Deluxe Box

Then infused with modern Gothic and Dark Metal similar to what they did in the darkest and most melancholic tracks of Alpha Noir/Omega White, but with an epic twist, Ruínas (or “ruins”) displays an 80’s-inspired rhythm where the bass lines by Aires sound ominous, with its lyrics passionately declaimed by Fernando transmitting a true sense of hopelessness, setting the tone for Todos Os Santos (or “all saints”), one of the strongest tracks of the album and the musical depiction of the eternal war between men and God. Its thrilling guitars combined with the powerful vocals by Fernando and its thunderous backing vocals result in top-notch Moonspell music, also presenting a catchy-as-hell chorus (even if you don’t know anything in Potuguese) in a beyond perfect closing to such sad and important event in the history of Portugal. As a matter of fact, there’s still one more song in the regular version of the album, their cover version for Brazilian rock band Os Paralamas do Sucesso’s hit Lanterna Dos Afogados (listen to the original song HERE), feeling more like a “bonus” than a regular track and sounding very somber, melancholic and touching, with Fernando giving a lesson in dark vocals. Moreover, if you go with any of the special editions of 1755, you’ll also be treated to the Spanish version of Desastre, which according to Moonspell themselves is a homage to all their Spanish-speaking fans around the world, as in the late 18th century a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese was spoken in the streets of Lisbon.

What Moonspell did in 1755, turning all devastation, death and grief from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake into first-class art, is not only terrific musically speaking, but it also proves that the human being is capable of finding beauty even in the most adverse moments, and I guess that’s some sort of subliminal message the band wanted to send us all with this excellent album. With that said, go grab your favorite version of 1755 at the Napalm Records webshop, or at the band’s own BandCamp page or official European webstore, and learn more about one of the saddest and most terrifying day in the history of Portugal. 1755 might be known as the year of the horror, as the year when God abandoned the people of Lisbon, but at least we have Moonspell to properly tell that grim story to us all and to soothe our hearts and souls forevermore with their undisputed Dark Metal.

Best moments of the album: 1755, In Tremor Dei, Evento and Todos Os Santos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Em Nome Do Medo 5:32
2. 1755 5:12
3. In Tremor Dei 4:26
4. Desastre 3:22
5. Abanão 4:08
6. Evento 4:43
7. 1 De Novembro 3:53
8. Ruínas 4:45
9. Todos Os Santos 5:10
10. Lanterna Dos Afogados (Os Paralamas do Sucesso cover) 6:30

Deluxe Box/Digipak/Limited Edition/Japanese Edition bonus track
11. Desastre (Spanish Version) 3:36

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards, guitars
Aires Pereira – bass
Miguel Gaspar – drums

Guest musicians
Jon Phipps – orchestrations
Paulo Bragança – vocals on “In Tremor Dei”
Martin Lopez – darbuka in “1755”
Crystal Mountain Singers (Carmen Simões, Alexandra Bernardo, Silvia Guerreiro) and Mariangela Dermutas – choirs

Album Review – Viles Vitae / IV EP (2017)

The four basic elemental principles from ritual magic converted into four powerful and tempestuous compositions by a new horde of experienced Portuguese black metallers.

Rating5

frontcover_vilesvitaeThere’s a new entity arising from the underworld of Portuguese Black Metal that goes by the name of Viles Vitae, or “worthless life” from Latin, who are unleashing upon humanity their debut EP simply titled IV, offering fans of extreme music the four basic elemental principles still used in ritual magic converted into four powerful and tempestuous compositions. Four elements, four songs, or as stated by the band, “a crescendo of feelings and cyclical repetitions to elevate thy souls of the dead straight to the heart of the listener.”

Although the band was brought into being only in 2015 in the capital city of Lisbon, Portugal, Viles Vitae are no beginners at all. Featuring experienced and known members of the underground Portuguese scene, this sinful power trio delivers in IV exactly what they wanted to expose, which is the primary spirit of Black Metal crafted from the heart. After facing the somber album art designed by Fábio Infante, you’ll already feel death and darkness growing inside you, but it’s when the music starts that you’ll finally understand how Stygian and complex the creations by Viles Vitae are.

The first track of the EP, The Vortex of Disharmony, begins is an atmospheric way, with background noises taking us to a desolate world before the guitar sounds by Belial Necro slowly impregnate the air together with the bestial drumming by Deimos. Moreover, this macabre and devilish fusion of Blackened Doom and Black Metal is definitely not recommended for the lighthearted, with Vulturius gnarling in the most hellish form possible. Leaning towards a more traditional Black Metal sounding, Sunless Redeemer brings forward demonic and steady blast beats that end up developing the desired ambience for the demon-like vociferations by Vulturius, turning the overall result into a dark hymn of extreme music that brings absolutely no hope to our hearts.

viles-vitae-25Highly influenced by obscure Doom Metal, Source Life Extinction presents a funereal vibe and a menacing musicality, with Belial Necro making sure his riffs sound as vile as possible. This sensational composition by Viles Vitae is not only very impactful and heavier than hell, but also the perfect example of what this demonic horde can offer us all in their future releases. The fourth and last song of the EP, named Theory of Deconstruction, is their most complex and multilayered creation, where Vulturius continues to blast his harsh growls while Deimos gets more blackened than ever on drums. Furthermore, transpiring blasphemy and hatred, the song’s howling wolves and background choir will hypnotize you for the last four minutes of this aria of darkness and despair.

The four basic elemental principles from ritual magic explored by Viles Vitae are available for purchase at the Caverna Abismal Records’ BandCamp page, and soon through their webshop as well. And in case you’re fond of the most obscure side of extreme music just like what is crafted by this amazing horde from Portugal, go check their Facebook page for more details and news about their current work, tour dates and future plans. After the spawn of the ominous IV, I wonder what type of malignancy the talented Vulturius, Belial Necro and Deimos are preparing as the next step in their career and, while we wait for it, the potent music from IV can keep us more than entertained without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Source Life Extinction.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Caverna Abismal Records

Track listing
1. The Vortex of Disharmony 5:30
2. Sunless Redeemer 5:50
3. Source Life Extinction 6:15
4. Theory of Deconstruction 12:28

Band members
Vulturius – vocals
Belial Necro – guitars
Deimos – drums

Concert Review – Epica & Moonspell (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 01/22/2016)

An electrifying fusion of Melodic Death Metal, Dark Metal and Symphonic Metal from distinct parts of the world storms the Opera House in Toronto in a memorable celebration of music.

OPENING ACT: Starkill

The North American Enigma PosterAlthough the winter hasn’t been too harsh so far in the city of Toronto this year, there’s nothing better than warming it up even more with some high-quality metal music from different parts of the world, all at the same place and time, don’t you agree? That’s what happened this Friday at the nice and cozy The Opera House, where fans could witness the riveting fusion of Melodic Death Metal from the United States, Dark Metal from Portugal and Symphonic Metal from the Netherlands on a cold but (thankfully) snowless night.

And I was finally able to get a full concert in Toronto from the very first second, without missing anything, starting with the young and restless metallers from STARKILL. Still promoting their latest album, the good Virus of the Mind, from 2014, this talented American quartet distilled their Melodic Death Metal in a precise way, warming up the crowd for the main attractions yet to come. Lead singer/guitarist Parker Jameson and guitarist Tony Keathley seemed very comfortable on stage and also among the crowd right after their concert was over, having a few beers with their fans, therefore showing how humble these guys are too. Despite adding a couple of nice unreleased songs to their setlist (entitled Burn Your World and Cloudless), in my opinion they truly thrived with songs from their two studio albums, in special the excellent Be Dead or Die and Fires of Life. I just wish they had played a faster song such as “Breaking the Madness” or “Skyward” instead of Before Hope Fades to close the show, but that was just a minor detail in their solid overall performance.

Setlist
Be Dead or Die
Burn Your World
Cloudless
Fires of Life
Virus of the Mind
Before Hope Fades

Band members
Parker Jameson – lead guitar, vocals
Tony Keathley – guitar, backing vocals
Shaun Andruchuk – bass guitar
Spencer Weidner – drums

MOONSPELL

IMG_1037About 24 hours before the moon in the city transitioned from First Quarter to Full Moon, and after an interesting alternate version of La Bafomette working as an intro, the iconic Portuguese Dark Metal wolf pack MOONSPELL stormed the Opera House with their obscurity, heaviness, electricity and undisputed talent. I really don’t know what to say about their performance so perfect it was. Perhaps that it took me too long to watch those old school Gothic metallers live for the first time? Anyway, their live concert is so damn brilliant it feels like an enhanced version of their studio albums, especially the performance by frontman Fernando Ribeiro. There’s so much passion emanating from his voice, either through his deep clean vocals, through his powerful growls or through his “real-time poetry” (or even when he made a joke about the guys from Starkill being so young they could be his children),  that it’s impossible not to get completely mesmerized and stunned by him during the entire show.

IMG_1032Of course, the rest of the band contributes enormously to the perfection of their music, with highlights to the polished and soulful riffs and solos by guitarist Ricardo Amorim, and to the sinister notes by keyboardist Pedro Paixão. There’s an absolute attention to detail coming from each musician involved, turning the experience of seeing Moonspell live into something unique. In addition, when you have such a masterpiece like their 2015 album Extinct guiding the setlist, with incredible compositions like Breathe (Until We Are No More), Extinct and The Last of Us complementing their old classics Night Eternal, Opium, Vampiria and Full Moon Madness, it’s extremely easy to put a sincere smile on the faces of the fans that attended the concert.

My only complaint is that their setlist was way too short and didn’t live up to their dark legacy. When the show was over after a little less than one hour, I was eager for more of their Gothic Metal, something you can expect from such an amazing band with a dazzling career like Moonspell. Well, they haven’t risen to stardom for no reason, right? If they had another 20 or 30 minutes to showcase more of their beautiful music, maybe by adding songs like “White Skies” and “Scorpion Flower” to their setlist, the night was going to be epic and, more important than that, more than eternal for us mere mortals. I cannot wait to see the “gajos” from Monspell live again, and next time, before the lights go out and before our time is gone, they better be the headliners or we riot!

Setlist
La Bafomette (Intro)
Breathe (Until We Are No More)
Extinct
Night Eternal
Opium
Awake
The Last of Us
Funeral Bloom
Vampiria
Alma Mater
Full Moon Madness

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards
Aires Pereira – bass
Miguel Gaspar – drums

EPICA

IMG_1069However, as most fans at the venue were there to see the main attraction of the night, the Dutch metallers from EPICA, I had to cope with the fact Moonspell’s concert was over and get ready for another good performance by the red-haired bombshell Simone Simons and her loyal crew. Due to personal reasons, they had to cancel their concerts in Toronto, Chicago and Minneapolis last September, which is why I believe their fans at the Opera House were so excited this Friday night.

Blending old classics with newer songs from their 2014 album The Quantum Enigma, Epica captivated the hearts of most people at the venue, with Simone connecting every single moment with the fans. As it happened with Moonspell, songs like The Second Stone and The Essence of Silence, despite not being classics yet, set fire to the crowd and boosted even more the impact of their classics, creating a very positive atmosphere among the crowd. And what can I say about the weird keyboards by Coen Janssen? What the hell was that? I mean, it looks cheesy, but it ends up working well with the music. If you like Epica, you know what I’m talking about.

IMG_1066There was just one minor issue with Epica’s performance, that being Moonspell. Well, not actually Moonspell, but the quality of the sound by the Portuguese metallers was way above what Epica provided the fans, which in the end felt odd. Sometimes their music sounded a bit muffled or tangled, not as clean as their studio versions, with Simone’s voice sounding lower (and almost inaudible in some moments) than all instruments. Nothing that could diminish the excitement among the fans at the venue, though, and obviously nothing that would make the night less memorable. If that mix of different subgenres of heavy music from distinct countries will ever happen again, only time will tell. In the meantime, all that’s left for us is keep those good moments deep in our hearts and wait until these bands come back to Toronto (especially Moonspell, in my case) for another shot of top-notch Heavy Metal.

Setlist
Originem (Intro)
The Second Stone
The Essence of Silence
Sensorium
Unleashed
Martyr of the Free Word
Cry for the Moon (with drum solo)
Storm the Sorrow
The Last Crusade
The Obsessive Devotion
Victims of Contingency
Design Your Universe

Encore:
Sancta Terra
Unchain Utopia
Consign to Oblivion

Band members
Simone Simons – lead vocals
Mark Jansen – rhythm guitar, harsh vocals
Isaac Delahaye – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Rob van der Loo – bass guitar
Coen Janssen – keyboards, piano
Ariën van Weesenbeek – drums, harsh vocals

Album Review – Tod Huetet Uebel / Malícia (2015)

If you let the infernal and malevolent music by this amazing Portuguese duo reach your heart, there’s no coming back.

Rating4

Cover_CDLet’s end this week on a high note with the flammable Black Metal by the talented Portuguese duo Tod Huetet Uebel, and I must assure you that you won’t be the same after listening to what they have to offer. By the way, the name of the band is the German for “death guards evil”, a more than suitable caption for the disturbing music you’ll find in their debut full-length album, entitled Malícia (the Portuguese word for “malice”). If you had no idea of how demonic music can be in Portugal, you better get ready for the heartless war found in this album.

Created from the very essence of hatred in 2012, Tod Hueted Uebel define their music as “a post-traumatic Black Metal experience” that “will leave mental bruises and scars in those who dare listen to the torments that dwell within”. Well said, guys. That perfectly summarizes Malícia, an album that will please fans of the darkest Black Metal you can imagine. Featuring an amazing 6-panel digipak with artwork by French artist/musician Valnoir (Metastazis), the level of wickedness and laceration in the album is not for the ordinary metal fan, making it a demanding listen for those who are not used to the atrocities of extreme music.

In the opening track, eccentrically named XIII (and get used to that, because all songs have names based on Roman numerals), a sinister intro flows into a diabolical sounding built upon modern Black Metal but without losing its traditional viciousness and speed. Multi-instrumentalist Daniel C. is responsible for crafting the music in all tracks, offering singer Marcos M. the perfect ambience for his anguished growls, and let me tell you this dynamic duo will darken your spirit already on the first track of the album (which is always the main goal in Black Metal, of course). And darkness is here to stay based on the nonstop violence and vileness delivered in I, where Marcos M. keeps disgorging his putrid snarling, unnerving your mind in a disquieting 9-minute first-rate aria of malignancy for lovers of classic Extreme Metal with a desolating and melancholic ending that obviously gets back to a sonic havoc before the song is actually over.

Their anger just grows in XII,  where Daniel C. is simply bestial on drums and guitars, delivering sick riffs and demonic beats and fills perfect for the harsh vocals by Marcos M., with another short break for the listener to take a deep breath before diving back into the musical twilight engendered by Tod Huetet Uebel. Moreover, their lyrics in Portuguese are as evil, poetic and awesome as possible (“Quero morrer, ser inverso ao amanhecer / Quero perecer, na demora da tua obra / Sinto-me leve, disperso ao corroer / Do sentimento que vos mantém / Amantes a ninguém”, which would translate to English as “I want to die, be reverse at dawn / I want to perish, in the lateness of your work / I feel light, scattered as I corrode / From the feeling that keeps you / Lovers to no one”), increasing the impact of their music.

XX VIII XXI is an instrumental tune that feels like a fiendish entity penetrating our flesh, working as an intro to the barbaric IX, where the initial scream by Marcos M. sounds inhuman while the instrumental parts continue their onslaught of darkness. It’s sheer Black Metal that will please all fans of the genre, making it extremely easy and interesting to feel all the pain and grief stemming from their ghoulish vocals. III might be the shortest of all tracks, but it surely delivers everything a good Black Metal chant needs, being precise, berserk, melodic and lugubrious, with Marcos M. with his growls and howls and Daniel C. with his lancinating riffs generating an ode to hopelessness and evil.  Besides, when they sing in English their lyrics are no less complex and beautiful, proving how talented this duo is (“Blood Libels of regal contempt / Dichotomy of essence and paragon of woe / The face of things to come / Burn this flesh oh dying light / In thy untold furnace of quintessence / Aether of malignant perfection”). Lastly, presenting elements from Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, the hindmost opus in Malícia, entitled V, is definitely the most nerve-racking of all. This time, Daniel C. focuses on mesmerizing and grievous notes while Marcos C. sounds like he’s being dragged down to hell, and I dare you to survive its 8 minutes without feeling totally uncomfortable or distressed in the end.

In summary, if you consider yourself a genuine adorer of the most perverse and heinous forms of Black Metal, I highly recommend you go after the music by Tod Huetet Uebel, available at their BandCamp and at the Caverna Abismal Records BandCamp. This sharp and impressive duo from Portugal is brilliantly cementing their dark path in the world of Extreme Metal, and in case you let their infernal music reach your heart, I must warn you that there’s no coming back.

Best moments of the album: I, XII and III.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Caverna Abismal Records

Track listing
1. XIII 5:49
2. I 9:00
3. XII 7:20
4. XX VIII XXI 1:15
5. IX 7:05
6. III 5:30
7. V 8:00

Band members
Marcos M. – vocals
Daniel C. – all instruments

Album Review – Festering / From The Grave (2015)

These undead Portuguese metallers are back from the grave to tear our flesh apart and provide us some high-quality old school Death Metal.

Rating5

Festering-FrontCover_smallJust like any gory and macabre zombie flick, there are times in our lives when people or things that we thought were dead and gone for good make an impactful return to feast on our flesh and haunt our souls. If you’re addicted to sordid old school Death Metal the likes of Dismember, Entombed and Grave, you won’t mind being devoured by the undead Portuguese Death Metal band Festering who, as per the name of their brand new album, are back From The Grave to tear all of us apart.

After releasing a split album back in 1992 and remaining dormant for almost two decades, this talented band from Santo António dos Cavaleiros, Portugal was reformed in 2011, releasing a demo tape entitled From The Grave and an EP named Exhumed, both in 2012. Now in 2015, following the same gruesome path of those releases, their debut full-length album From The Grave, which features cover illustration and artworks by renowned artist César Valladares (Asphyx, Nominon, Graveyard, among many others), will provide the listener a full-bodied portrait of what these cold-blooded Portuguese metallers are capable of.

The quick and sinister intro Festering initiates the sonic cannibalism that becomes extremely barbaric in Exhumed, an old school Death Metal song with absolutely no shenanigans, just straightforward devastation where riffs and growls take the spotlight (as expected), also showcasing drums highly influenced by the blast beats of Black Metal but slightly groovier. Following that promising start, we have the perverse Infected and its hints of Doom Metal, with the bestial vocals by Pedro Gonçalves inspired by old Sepultura and Morbid Angel. It’s a great song for headbanging led by its wicked riffs, where the band accelerates the rhythm, slows it down and goes on with that alternation a few more times, reaching an outstanding result in the end.

The Myth Of Creation can be considered a circle-pit generator chant, with drummer Norberto Arrais kicking ass behind his kit while the guitar lines by João Galego seem as if they’re going to decapitate us so sharp they are, not to mention the aggressiveness of the low-tuned bass lines by Koja Mutilator. And if you think Festering will give you a break you’re damn wrong, because they keep kicking you in the head with their nonstop viciousness in Consuming From Within, a very traditional tune with lots of groove, feeling sometimes like a tribute to Cannibal Corpse and other classic gory bands due to its lyrics (“Open sores all over my body and exuding a foul scent / With an intense suffering, the anguish spend my days / With the excruciating pain that runs through my body / And wanton my flesh like a cold steel blade”); followed by the “infected” musicality and dirty melody found in Submerged In Emptiness, with highlights to the rhythmic beats by Norberto. This tune lives up to the sanguinary tradition of Death Metal, or in other words, it’s fast, heavy and wicked, and we love all that.

Promo-PictureThe next track, Bloodline, has a deranged ambience boosted by the demented deep growls by Pedro, with its hardcore riffs and extreme violence being the icing on the cake of this sensational feast of blood and death that should work marvelously if played live. Moreover, kudos to João for his spot-on guitar solo, adding more electricity to the overall result. In the Blackened Doom Metal tune Proliferation Of Infected Leucocytes their demonic side arises, and if you pay good attention to the music you’ll find hints of Rock N’ Roll and Southern Metal in it, increasing its complexity and harmony but obviously always keeping it carnivorous. Lastly, closing the album we have the slashing Ascent Of The Blessed, where the combination of its direct shredding and high-speed drums turns it into an excellent option for mosh pits, with Pedro once again delivering his amazing sick roars to give life (or death) to the song’s lyrics (“The angels all ascended, / The demons left behind / A new generation was born / From their hatred and cruelty – We”), and the shortest of all tracks, Psychic Convulsions Of Neurasthenia, a beautiful name for a violent composition with highlights to the evil bass lines by Koja.

There are several places where you can find more details about the music by Festering, such as their YouTube channel and especially at their ReverbNation page, and grab your copy of From The Grave at the band’s BandCamp, at the Caverna Abismal Records BandCamp, or at the Caverna Abismal Records webstore. As aforementioned, these talented (and undead) metallers are back from the grave not only to tear our flesh apart but, more important than that, to also provide us all high-quality old school Death Metal. But that’s if you’re not afraid of living dead musicians, of course.

Best moments of the album: Infected, Submerged In Emptiness and Bloodline.

Worst moments of the album: Proliferation Of Infected Leucocytes.

Released in 2015 Caverna Abismal Records/War Productions/Sinais Produções

Track listing
1. Festering (Intro) 0:23
2. Exhumed 3:15
3. Infected 4:36
4. The Myth Of Creation 4:15
5. Consuming From Within 4:21
6. Submerged In Emptiness 4:36
7. Bloodline 4:13
8. Proliferation Of Infected Leucocytes 3:36
9. Ascent Of The Blessed 5:21
10. Psychic Convulsions Of Neurasthenia 2:53

Band members
Pedro Gonçalves – vocals
João Galego – guitars
Koja Mutilator – bass
Norberto Arrais – drums

Album Review – Moonspell / Extinct (2015)

While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.

Rating1

moonspell_extinctIt’s definitely not an overstatement to say Portuguese Dark Metal pioneers Moonspell are the best music group in the history of Portugal, and of course, the best Dark/Gothic Metal band of all times. They’re not just a Heavy Metal band exploring the darkest and deepest emotions with their matchless music, but over the course of their more than 20 years of career they reshaped and redefined Gothic Rock/Metal worldwide, taking it to a whole new level. And even after so many years on the road they still have a lot of creativity and electricity flowing through their veins, culminating in the Goth masterpiece Extinct, their eleventh full-length album and undoubtedly one of their best to date.

With beautifully disturbing cover artworks designed by Greek artist Seth Siro Anton (also known as Spiros Antoniou, leader of Greek Symphonic Death Metal band Septicflesh), a different one per album version by the way, Extinct has an impeccable overall production that only increases its magnitude. Furthermore, the album feels like it’s purposely split in two distinct parts, the first leaning to a more Heavy Metal sounding whilst the second pays homage to pure Gothic Rock. And it doesn’t matter which “part” you prefer, it’s impossible not to enjoy Extinct in its entirety.

moonspellWhen Breathe (Until We Are No More) starts, you can already feel Extinct is going to be a great album. With the keyboard notes by Pedro Paixão providing that ominous atmosphere we love in Gothic music and its progressive riffs blended with a very ferocious chorus due to the harsh vocals by lead singer Fernando Ribeiro, you’ll feel embraced by the band’s unique musicality for sure. The title-track, Extinct, is a work of art of darkness and passion, offering the listener powerful headbanging riffs, beautiful guitar solos and keyboard passages, an incredible job done by Fernando on vocals, as well as a chorus that is beyond phenomenal  (“Before the lights go out / Before our time is gone / A taste of your lips / Before we go extinct”). In addition, the official video to the song, which you can see below, perfectly depicts its musicality, and if it doesn’t give you a thrill maybe you should go listen to Justin Bieber or One Direction, because you’re not worthy.

Medusalem is not only the fastest and the most metallic of all songs, but the addition of Middle-Eastern elements electrified it even more. I would love to listen to this more-than-perfect epitome of Gothic Metal live, with highlights to Fernando kicking ass on vocals once again. Following that amazing dark attack we have the touching rock/metal ballad Domina, with its thoughtful lyrics enhanced by a mesmerizing atmosphere and more soulful guitar solos, and a brilliant song entitled The Last of Us: with lyrics tailored to drive any girl crazy (“Let me touch you where’s forbidden / And test the limits of your sanctity”), this song kind of kicks of the Gothic Rock extravaganza in the album, focusing on the same musicality that elevated bands like H.I.M. to stardom.

moonspell_extinct02

Extinct Limited Mediabook Edition

The next track, the beautiful Malignia, is even darker than all previous songs, with its name, keyboards, background effects, the depth of the vocal lines and everything else in this Goth anthem being as somber as possible, while Funeral Bloom is a song that could easily be played on any radio station so catchy it is. Besides, the way drummer Miguel Gaspar, bassist Aires Pereira and keyboardist Pedro Paixão are in sync is remarkable. A Dying Breed is another exciting Gothic Rock song where Fernando varies between his clean vocals and deep growls perfectly, with the rhythm flawlessly following his vocal lines from smoother passages to heavier moments thanks to the excellent job done by Ricardo Amorim and Pedro Paixão on guitars.

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Extinct 2-LP Gatefold

There’s so much beauty found in The Future Is Dark it’s hard to explain it in just a few words: it has another very passionate and melancholic chorus that will get stuck in your head for days (“Gotta breathe in, gotta breathe out / Up on your feet, gotta think twice / The future is dark, the future is vile / Without you there’s no tomorrow”), and what can I say about the blackened ambience the band brings forth in this song, mainly due to its guitar lines and solos? That’s simply amazing. And lastly we have the weird French song La Baphomette, which despite not being a disaster it doesn’t keep up with the awesomeness of the rest of the album. It’s important to say the deluxe edition of Extinct also brings four high-quality bonus tracks, and unless you’ve just waken up from a coma you might not have noticed yet they’re alternate versions for four of the songs of the regular album. In my opinion, the best of those tracks is the passionate semi-acoustic Doomina, which is a word play of “Doom” and the original song “Domina”, got it?

To sum up, calling Extinct the best album of 2015 even if we’re still in March, with many months to go until the year is over, is not an overstatement either. An awe-inspiring album like this one truly deserves to be appreciated by all music lovers, it doesn’t matter if you’re a metalhead or not. In other words, go listen to Extinct with the person you love the most, or simply close your eyes and savor it by yourself, resting assured that while Moonspell are among us dark and meaningful music will never be extinct.

Best moments of the album: Extinct, Medusalem, Malignia, The Future Is Dark and the bonus track Doomina.

Worst moments of the album: La Baphomette.

Released in 2015 Napalm Records

Track listing
1.Breathe (Until We Are No More) 5:33
2.Extinct 4:42
3.Medusalem 5:06
4.Domina 5:09
5.The Last of Us 3:26
6.Malignia 5:06
7.Funeral Bloom 4:10
8.A Dying Breed 4:29
9.The Future Is Dark 5:09
10.La Baphomette 2:48

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
11.Until We Are No Less 7:02
12.Doomina 4:49
13.Last of Them 5:24
14.The Past Is Darker 5:43

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards, guitars
Aires Pereira – bass
Miguel Gaspar – drums