Album Review – Nightfear / Apocalypse (2020)

An unstoppable Heavy Metal entity hailing from Spain returns in full force with their most powerful and mature album to date, always true and loyal to their origins.

Formed in the already distant year of 2008 in Madrid, Spain, an unstoppable Heavy Metal force that goes by the name of Nightfear is about to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their third full-length installment, entitled Apocalypse, by far their most powerful and mature album to date, featuring ten impressive compositions full of catchy melodies, razor-edged guitar riffs and the remarkable vocals by Lorenzo Mutiozabal, being highly recommended for fans of the fusion of Heavy and Power Metal blasted by iconic bands like Judas Priest, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Maiden And Primal Fear.

Comprised of the aforementioned Lorenzo Mutiozabal on vocals, Ismael Retana and Ángel Fernández on the guitars, Manuel Moreno on bass and Osckar Bravo on drums, Nightfear released their debut album Inception in 2012, quickly establishing their name in the Spanish Heavy Metal scene, with their 2015 concept album Drums of War cementing their name as one of the most prominent national bands within the genre. However, it’s with Apocalypse that this unrelenting Spanish squad aims at conquering the world of heavy music, offering their fans and newcomers to their metal realm a new step in the evolution of the band while at the same time always staying true to their origins.

And Osckar already gives a taste of his refined skills in the opening track We are Back, kicking off the album on a high (and fast) note. In other words, this is definitely how any band should announce their return to action, with Lorenzo’s vocals reminding me of the golden years of Helloween’s own Andi Deris, not to mention the incendiary riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo. Their ode to old school Heavy and Power Metal goes on in Shine, another Helloween-inspired anthem where Ismael and Ángel slash their strings majestically, resulting in an upbeat creation by the band where Manuel’s thunderous bass and Osckar’s nonstop beats generate a powerful atmosphere for our total delight, followed by Living Your Life, a mid-tempo rockin’ tune where Lorenzo is on fire with his high-pitched, passionate vocal lines, supported by spot-on backing vocals and classic, strident riffs.

It’s definitely impossible to stand still to the dynamic and high-octane A Better World, where Osckar and the band’s stringed trio are on absolute fire, therefore providing Lorenzo all he needs to shine on vocals. Furthermore, not only the song’s ending brings a beautiful guitar solo for our avid ears, but its utterly catchy chorus and sheer speed turn it into a must-listen for admirers of the genre. There’s no sign of slowing down, as in The Stranger, a very melodic and captivating tune once again drinking from the same fountain as several of their German neighbors, the band remains loyal to traditional Heavy Metal from start to finish. How can it get any better than this? Then even faster and more aggressive than its predecessors, the instrumental feast of metallic sounds and tones titled Psichokiller sounds like a Spanish version of Primal Fear, with Ismael and Ángel delivering pulverizing riffs and electrifying guitar solos nonstop; whereas the tribal beats by Osckar ignite the also incendiary Through the Stars, presenting over six minutes of flammable guitar lines and killer drums and bass punches, while Lorenzo keeps doing what he does best, which is blasting his soaring vocals majestically in this lecture in traditional Melodic and Power Metal.

Nuclear Winter is another pounding, headbanging creation by Nightfear where the entire band kicks some serious ass with their flammable vocals, piercing riffs, and thunderous bass and drums. Put differently, it’s an ode to 80’s and 90’s Heavy Metal, bringing forward beautiful, melodious lines intertwined with sheer adrenaline, and the band puts the pedal to the metal mercilessly, accelerating the pace and delivering a Power Metal extravaganza entitled The Evil in You, led by the intricate, high-octane shredding by the band’s talented guitarists while Osckar dictates the song’s frantic rhythm on drums. And lastly we have Angels of Apocalypse, one of the boldest creations of their career surpassing the eight-minute barrier, starting in a serene manner with a narration inviting the listener to join Nightfear in their new adventure and exhaling epicness, with Lorenzo giving a lesson in metal singing while the music flows smoothly and powerfully until the very end.

If you want to put your metallic hands on this precious gem of Heavy and Power Metal made in Spain, simply go to the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page or to Apple Music (and soon also available from the Xtreem Music webstore and other locations) to grab your copy of the album, and obviously don’t forget to follow Nightfear on Facebook and to listen to more of their music on Spotify, showing your true support to such distinct and talented metallers. A new year has just begun, and as several people are saying 2020 will be the year of the Apocalypse, at least we can rest assured Nightfear are among us to provide our ears and minds a vibrant and thrilling soundtrack to the end of the world.

Best moments of the album: We are Back, The Stranger, Through the Stars and Nuclear Winter.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. We are Back 5:59
2. Shine 5:11
3. Living Your Life 5:00
4. A Better World 4:09
5. The Stranger 5:32
6. Psichokiller 4:29
7. Through the Stars 6:29
8. Nuclear Winter 6:05
9. The Evil in You 4:42
10. Angels of Apocalypse 8:27

Band members
Lorenzo Mutiozabal – vocals
Ismael Retana – guitar
Ángel Fernández – guitar
Manuel Moreno – bass
Osckar Bravo – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The year of 2019 might be reaching its inevitable end in the blink of an eye for most of us, but if there’s one thing we must admit is that it has been indeed a year of countless events, episodes and changes with a huge impact on how pretty much everything works in our Heavy Metal universe. For instance, 2019 was the year where we unfortunately witnessed the ultimate campaign by Thrash Metal titans Slayer, who at the same time left an undisputed and brilliant legacy to Heavy Metal and a giant hole in our hearts and in the global Thrash Metal scene. Do you think there’s any band that can fill that gap created by the end of Slayer? In my humble opinion, although I love bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, I doubt anyone can claim Slayer’s throne as the meanest, most demonic and most pulverizing band of all time, but that doesn’t mean Thrash Metal is dead and gone. Quite the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking, with many of the underground bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose contributing to keep the flame of such distinct subgenre of heavy music burning bright.

In addition, 2019 was also the year we lost many of our rock and metal icons, including André Matos (vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper), Larry Wallis (former guitarist of Motörhead), and Timi Hansen (former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond), as well as several talented musicians from non-metal styles like Marie Fredriksson (lead singer and keyboardist of Roxette), Keith Flint (frontman of The Prodigy), and the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Mr. Dick Dale. However, even with all those significant losses, we can say 2019 was a productive year for rock and metal music, with many iconic and underground bands delivering some fantastic albums for our total delectation, and that’s why here we are again with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, to prove once and for all that heavy music will never, ever die. Having said that, enjoy our list of top metal albums for this year that’s coming to an end, and keep raising your horns high together with us in 2020!

1. Rammstein – Rammstein (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.
Best song of the album: Deutschland

2. Necronomicon – UNUS (REVIEW)
Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their career.
Best song of the album: Infinituum Continuum

3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics (REVIEW)
It’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Fire God and Fear

4. Soilwork – Verkligheten (REVIEW)
Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters return in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.
Best song of the album: Stålfågel

5. The Agonist – Orphans (REVIEW)
Canadian juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.
Best song of the album: Blood as My Guide

6. Helevorn – Aamamata (REVIEW)
Embrace darkness and melancholy with the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the current Spanish scene.
Best song of the album: Aurora

7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (REVIEW)
The world’s most famous masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.
Best song of the album: Unsainted

8. Amon Amarth – Berserker (REVIEW)
Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with Amon Amarth.
Best song of the album: Shield Wall

9. Target – Deep Water Flames (REVIEW)
Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by this amazing band from Chile.
Best song of the album: Oceangrave

10. Singularity – Place of Chains (REVIEW)
The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Ritual of Regret

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Grand Magus – Wolf God (REVIEW)
12. Hiss From The Moat – The Harrier (REVIEW)
13. Lucifera – La Caceria De Brujas (REVIEW)
14. Alunah – Violet Hour (REVIEW)
15. Dö – Astral Death Cult (REVIEW)
16. Rifftera – Across the Acheron (REVIEW)
17. Rage Of Light – Imploder (REVIEW)
18. Rexoria – Ice Breaker (REVIEW)
19. HerezA – Death Metal Drunks (REVIEW)
20. Aephanemer – Prokopton (REVIEW)

Also, let’s not forget about some of the best albums which, although might be short in duration, they did bring to our ears an endless amount of heaviness, speed and harmony this year, accrediting them to be part of our Top 10 EP’s of 2019. As you can see, those EP’s were recorded by the most diverse types of bands and artists from all over the world, becoming some sort of “tasting sample” of what we can expect from those metallers in a not-so-distant future.

1. Eleine – All Shall Burn (REVIEW)
2. Quilombo – Itankale (REVIEW)
3. Master’s Call – Morbid Black Trinity (REVIEW)
4. Violent Life Violent Death – Sadness Rains (REVIEW)
5. Angra Demana – Triptych Of Decay (REVIEW)
6. Vorga – Radiant Gloom (REVIEW)
7. Shuulak – Citrinitas (REVIEW)
8. Moanaa – Torches (REVIEW)
9. Exuviated – Déliquescence (REVIEW)
10. Sophist – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2019? And, as usual, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2020!

And before The Headbanging Moose takes a well-deserved break to recover our energies and return in full force in 2020, how about we enjoy what’s probably one of the best and most detailed “Christmas” songs of all time, the fantastic Valhalleluja, recently released by Italian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Nanowar of Steel? This is the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas night with your loved ones, especially if you give someone anything from IKEA as a Christmas gift. Well, simply watch the official video below and follow the lyrics to understand what I’m talking about. Having said that, let’s all pray to Odin, drink beer and sing Valhalleluja together with Nanowar of Steel, my friends!

Album Review – Danger Zone / Don’t Count On Heroes (2019)

Rest assured we can always count on this talented Italian squad to make our lives better to the sound of their first-class, 80’s-inspired Hard Rock.

As we’re quickly approaching the end of 2019, let’s enjoy a melodious and vibrant feast of Hard Rock infused with Heavy and Power Metal elements to properly warm us up for the year that’s about to begin, hosted by Bologna, Italy-based veteran rockers Danger Zone, who have just released their fourth full-length album Don’t Count On Heroes, the follow-up to their highly-acclaimed 2016 album Closer To Heaven. Featuring the same lineup as in their 2016 album, that being Giacomo Gigantelli on vocals, Roberto Priori and Danilo Faggiolino on the guitars, Matteo Minghetti on bass, Pier Mazzini on keyboards and Paolo Palmieri on drums, Don’t Count On Heroes is another ode to 80’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal split into 11 classy compositions, reminding us all once again that although those golden years of rock and metal might be long gone, they’re still alive and kicking inside the hearts of us fans and of talented musicians like the ones from Danger Zone.

As soon as you hit play, futuristic sounds will ignite the Hard Rock party entitled Demon or Saint, led by Paolo’s steady beats and Pier’s classic keys, while Matteo brings thunder to the music with his metallic bass. Needless to say, it’s quite impossible to stand still to this electrifying display of rock music. After such amazing welcome card, the band delivers more melodic and pleasant notes in Faster Than Love, where Giacomo gives a lesson in 80’s Hard Rock on vocals, or in other words, it couldn’t sound more Sunset Strip than this; followed by Somewhere Out of Time, keeping the rhythm fast and upbeat, with Roberto and Danilo extracting sheer electricity form their guitars accompanied by the thunderous bass by Matteo, resulting in a beautiful composition that will please all fans of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Firing a more melodic and radio-friendly sound, those Italian rockers offer to our ears the ballad Destiny, with the guitars by Danilo and Roberto filling our ears with joy and harmony, all boosted by Pier’s classic keys, whereas it’s time to speed things up again and increase the level of adrenaline in Down to Passion, led by Paolo’s spot-on beats and Matteo’s rumbling bass. Put differently, this is a dancing tune that lives up to the legacy of 80’s Hard Rock with the band’s own European twist, not to mention Pier and Roberto’s healthy “duel of solos”, adding even more energy to the overall result. In Rise Again we’re treated to an acoustic, serene intro where Giacomo showcases all his vocal potency flowing into a beautiful ballad with introspective lyrics and endless passion, while Hang on to Your Heart is another straightforward creation by Danger Zone showcasing classic guitar lines and beats. It’s nothing truly special, but its chorus is indeed catchy and should work really well if played at a rock n’ roll radio station.

And it seems Danger Zone are investing heavily on ballads this time, as Forever Now is one more display of how mellow and passionate they can sound, with Roberto bringing a sensational rockin’ touch to the song with his guitar solos while Giacomo beautifully declaims the song’s positive lyrics. Then rev up your engines for a mid-tempo Hard Rock extravaganza entitled Rolling Thunder, where Paolo doesn’t stop pounding his drums, therefore providing Giacomo all he needs to thrive on vocals and again presenting awesome guitar solos for our total delectation. The second to last tune in Don’t Count On Heroes, titled Breakaway, is faster and more furious than most songs of the album, with its guitars sounding utterly strident and sharp, not to mention Pier’s 80’s-inspired keys bringing even more adrenaline to the music, and that heaviness and fun goes on until the song’s very last second. Last but not least, a piano-based ballad named Eternity closes the album on a melancholic and gentle note, again focusing on Giacomo’s potent vocal lines but with Roberto obviously stealing the spotlight with his lean solos, resulting in a perfect song for listening together with your loved ones.

As aforementioned, Danger Zone have been putting a lot of effort and focus on the melody and harmony of their compositions, which is beyond clear in their new album Don’t Count On Heroes (available for a full listen on Spotify), and if you’re a fan of this very melodic side of 80’s Hard Rock and Glam Metal go check what the band is up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and grab your copy of their pleasant new album from the Pride & Joy Music webstore, from the AOR Heaven webstore, from CDON.se, from Apple Music or from Amazon. We might not be able to count on heroes to save us in our dangerous society, but we can surely count on Danger Zone to make our lives easier and happier to the sound of their excellent and classic Hard Rock.

Best moments of the album: Demon or Saint, Down to Passion and Breakaway.

Worst moments of the album: Hang on to Your Heart.

Released in 2019 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Demon or Saint 4:55
2. Faster Than Love 4:40
3. Somewhere Out of Time 4:17
4. Destiny 4:12
5. Down to Passion 4:05
6. Rise Again 4:07
7. Hang on to Your Heart 4:07
8. Forever Now 4:36
9. Rolling Thunder 4:25
10. Breakaway 4:30
11. Eternity 4:58

Band members
Giacomo Gigantelli – vocals
Roberto Priori – lead guitar
Danilo Faggiolino – guitar
Matteo Minghetti – bass
Pier Mazzini – keyboards
Paolo Palmieri – drums

Album Review – Iced Earth / Horror Show (2001)

Are you looking for the ultimate Heavy Metal soundtrack to spice up your Halloween party? Mr. Jon Schaffer and his henchmen can definitely help you with that.

IcedEarth-HorrorShowTampa, Florida-based Power/Thrash Metal veterans Iced Earth might be one of the most underrated bands in the history of heavy music, and I believe they’re not bigger or more famous due to Mr. Jon Schaffer’s fickle temper, which has resulted in countless (and unstable) lineup changes in the history of the band, lowering any expectations a fan might have about their future. I personally don’t care that much about the mood of any musician, as long as this doesn’t negatively affect the overall quality of the music. Take a look at Dave Mustaine and Dani Filth, for example, and you’ll notice there are some changes in their music, but the core essence of Megadeth and Cradle of Filth is always there for the delight of their fans. Due to those constant changes you never know exactly what to expect from Iced Earth, as they sometimes deliver really bad material, but fortunately for all of us their 2001 album Horror Show showcases the Iced Earth we all want to listen to, sounding powerful, well-engendered and, above all, very creative and entertaining.

Horror Show is not just a traditional Heavy Metal album, also bringing a lot of the energy from Power Metal and some of the violence found in Thrash Metal, and that’s in my opinion the best “formula” Jon and his crew can offer us. Furthermore, it’s kind of  a concept album focused on different horror stories, making it even more interesting for Heavy Metal fans that also enjoy reading a frightful book or going to the movies to see a good dosage of monsters and blood. For instance, all songs on the album are based on classic horror films, from werewolves to vampires and mummies, and many of the lyrics are lifted directly from the source material, proving that when Jon doesn’t let his personal issues interfere in his music, the final result is always fantastic. Add to all that some incredibly talented musicians like Matt Barlow on vocals, Larry Tarnowski on the lead guitar, Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) on bass and Richard Christy (Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) on drums, and there you have the utmost recipe for awesomeness.

Wolf, the first track of the album inspired by The Wolf Man films, is an excellent heavy song to kick things off, showing why Jon is considered by many one of the best riff-makers in Heavy Metal. The speed of the song and its grinding riffs give it an amazing Thrash Metal touch, not to mention its chorus inspired by a poem that is recited in the 1941 film The Wolf Man, making any fan excited for the rest of the album. Then we have Damien, inspired by The Omen films, presenting outstanding lyrics that make a lot of sense if you have read the book or seen the movies like I’ve done (“When the Jews return to Zion / And a comet fills the sky / The Holy Roman Empire rises / And you and I must die”). As a matter of fact, the chorus was taken from the 1976 film The Omen, and the spoken section was adapted from a speech in its 1981 sequel, Omen III: The Final Conflict, just to give you a sense of how detailed this song is. Things get even better in Jack, inspired by the one and only Jack the Ripper, with Jon slashing our ears with his riffs in great “Ripper” fashion. Moreover, perhaps the funniest thing about this song is that Horror Show was the last studio album (apart from their album of cover songs called Tribute to the Gods, from 2002) Matt recorded before Tim “Ripper” Owens (The Ripper himself!) joined the band in 2003 and recorded The Glorious Burden in 2004, which is for me one of their best and most consistent albums of all.

The album continues with Ghost of Freedom, the only song that wasn’t inspired by any horror movie or character. It’s a very beautiful ballad and one of the top moments of the whole album, showing us a more “romantic” side of Jon and how good Matt’s voice can be even when he’s not screaming. The following three songs might not be masterpieces, but they surely keep the album at a high level of adrenaline and epicness. Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse) (inspired by The Mummy), Jekyll & Hyde (inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and Dragon’s Child (inspired by Creature from the Black Lagoon) not only have amazing concepts, but the music itself is very pleasant and cohesive, embracing us all and pulling us deeper into the world of horror created by the band throughout the entire album.

IcedEarth_Promo2001Frankenstein (“surprisingly” inspired by Frankenstein) is even better than those three tracks, raising your energy level and making you want to headbang like a crazy motherfucker, followed by the best song of Horror Show without a shadow of a doubt, the stunning Dracula (also “astoundingly” inspired by Dracula), a metal masterpiece that’s absolutely flawless from start to finish, presenting to the listener the duo Jon and Matt at the peak of their forms. This is an all-time fan favorite and a mandatory track in any of the band’s live setlists, also bringing to our avid ears ass-kicking lyrics (“Do you believe in love? / Do you believe in destiny? / True love may come only once in a thousand lifetimes…”). Lastly, we have The Phantom Opera Ghost, obviously inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, and despite all the additional elements and musicians it sounds too pretentious and doesn’t deliver what the fans are actually expecting.

The limited edition has a bonus disc with two totally opposite moments: an incredible cover for Iron Maiden’s Transylvania, where Jon does what he does best with his guitar; and a tedious interview with him that lasts for over an hour. I guess there’s a one-disc version of Horror Show that includes Transylvania as a regular track, so if I were you that’s the one I would buy. And finally, one thing that Iced Earth have always delivered are stunning album arts. The band’s own mascot, Set Abominae, might not be part of the compositions this time, but he certainly makes the front cover of Horror Show designed by Danny Miki and Travis Smith darkly captivating. In a nutshell, Horror Show, which makes the already distant year of 2001 look like it just happened yesterday, is a mandatory choice for that Heavy Metal Halloween party you’re planning with your friends (as well as a good source of inspiration for your costumes), or maybe you can just dress up as Jon Schaffer and walk around your neighborhood playing some of the tracks from Horror Show on your guitar, how about that? We could even call this new Halloween tradition as “Trick or Thrash”.

Best moments of the album: Wolf, Damien, Ghost of Freedom, Dracula and Transylvania.

Worst moments of the album: The Phantom Opera Ghost.

Released in 2001 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Wolf 5:20
2. Damien 9:12
3. Jack 4:14
4. Ghost of Freedom 5:12
5. Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse) 4:45
6. Jekyll & Hyde 4:39
7. Dragon’s Child 4:21
8. Frankenstein 3:50
9. Dracula 5:54
10. The Phantom Opera Ghost 8:41

Limited Edition Disc Two
11. Transylvania (Iron Maiden cover) 4:30
12. Interview with Jon Schaffer (conducted by Sumit Chandra) 69:27

Band members
Matt Barlow – vocals
Jon Schaffer – guitar
Larry Tarnowski – lead guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – bass
Richard Christy – drums

Guest musicians
Yunhui Percifield – lead vocals on “The Phantom Opera Ghost” as “Christine”, backing vocals
Jim Morris – guitar solo on “Ghost of Freedom”, keys, backing vocals
Howard Helm – keys (pipe organ) on “The Phantom Opera Ghost”
Richie Wilkison, Rafaela Farias & Sam King – backing vocals

Album Review – Grimgotts / Dragons of the Ages (2019)

Set sail and enjoy this concept album about a war between dragons, sea-creatures and men in the form of classic and imposing Symphonic Power Metal.

Formed in the town of Horsham in 2015 by vocalist Andy Barton as a joke parody band at first, British Symphonic Power Metal act Grimgotts initially described themselves as “probably the best Harry Potter themed symphonic power metal band to come out of West Sussex”, having released only one (unofficial) single under that gimmick. Fortunately for us, fans of symphonic metal music, Andy decided to shift the band’s focus to fantasy and nautical themes the following year, and with the help of other musicians Grimgotts released their debut EP entitled Here Be Dragonlords, followed by another EP that same year named Extenditus Playus, the EP Part Man, Part Beast, Part Dragon in early 2017, and the full-length album Lions of the Sea by late 2017 after teaming up with  keyboardist Fabio Garau, guitarist David Hills and bassist James Taylor.

In 2018 Grimgotts solidified their lineup with bassist Nelson Moreira and drummer Mo Abdelgadir, playing at Power Metal Quest Festival and supporting German power metallers Victorius in London, England, inspiring the band to set sail once again in 2019 with the release of their sophomore full-length opus, titled Dragons of the Ages, a concept album about a war between dragons, sea-creatures and men set in the same fictional world of Vale as per the band’s own previous albums. Produced by Alex Loader (Ethereal Sound Studio) and featuring an epic, dragon-infused artwork by Ryan Marter (Arctic Wolf Design), Dragons of the Ages will please most fans of bands like Edguy, Twilight Force, Rhapsody, Alestorm and Sabaton, among others, taking the listener on a vibrant journey to a whimsical land where heavy music is the ultimate soundtrack to epic battles.

The sound of the waves and the symphonic keys by Fabio invite the listener to join Grimgotts in War’s Come to Our Shores, reminding me of the epic and adventurous music played by UK’s own Alestorm, with Andy’s vocals being a mix of Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén’s and Italian icon Fabio Lione’s, also featuring guest Julia Zelg with her beautiful female vocals. After such vibrant welcome card it’s time for The Last Dragon Warriors, where Julia once again helps Andy to declaim the song’s classic Power Metal lyrics (“For every day that we are here / We prepare to take the world / With our ships we can sail to the sun / For years we’ve sat and we’ve decayed / But today with stand as one / A mighty army, hail to the lords”) while David fires some ass-kicking, incendiary solos to add more electricity to the overall result, whereas Ancient Waters sounds and feels even more epic and imposing, inspired by the symphonic music played by acts like Rhapsody of Fire, Blind Guardian and Sabaton, with David’s riffs and Nelson’s rumbling bass dictating its thrilling rhythm.

In War at Dawn Fabio fires strident key notes while Mo pounds and slams his drums with precision and feeling, resulting in a Symphonic Power Metal extravaganza perfect for heading into the battlefield, with Andy telling the story with a lot of passion. Then prance around the fire pit together with your friends to the sound of The King Under the Sea, where David keeps slashing his stringed weapon and Mo keeps smashing his drums nonstop, not to mention the epic vibe generated by Fabio’s keys; and folk-ish elements ignite the metallic feast entitled The Long Road, sounding more progressive than its predecessors but still loyal to the foundations of Symphonic Power Metal. In addition, Nelson and Mo once again shine with their refined techniques. And Turning the Tide, the most Power Metal of all songs, is another battle hymn where David is on fire with his riffs while Mo sounds like a stone crusher on drums, sounding and feeling very melodic, epic and, above all, as fast as good Power Metal should be.

Despite bringing forward fanciful lyrics as its main ingredient (“The Shaman spoke to me / Told me of my destiny / The Northmen march to war / The dragons still can fall / For our great ancient city / Let’s not delay / Pray, we won’t go astray”), Take to the Sea lacks more stamina and strength. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the genre. Back to a more dense sonority, The Great Shadow is embraced by the crisp keys by Fabio, with Andy delivering high-pitched, tuneful vocal lines the likes of André Mattos (R.I.P.), and with that inspiring vibe going on until the song’s climatic ending, all spiced up by David’s flammable solos. Last but not least, get ready for over eight minutes of folk-like keyboards, galloping beats and bass, electrifying guitars and soaring vocal lines in Here Be Dragonlords, even presenting some deep guttural vocals on the second half of the song while its ending is amazingly epic, melancholic and powerful.

You can listen to Grimgotts’ tribute to the sea, to mythical creatures and dragons and, of course, to our beloved Heavy Metal on YouTube and on Spotify in its entirety, and after “returning” from such distinct voyage don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and to purchase Dragons of the Ages from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. And may those metal pirates and warriors hailing from the UK continue to invade our minds and enhance our senses with their imposing and symphonic music for many years to come, always fighting for glory, for freedom and for metal.

Best moments of the album: The Last Dragon Warriors, War at Dawn and Turning the Tide.

Worst moments of the album: Take to the Sea.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. War’s Come to Our Shores 6:05
2. The Last Dragon Warriors 5:26
3. Ancient Waters 3:54
4. War at Dawn 4:18
5. The King Under the Sea 3:20
6. The Long Road 4:54
7. Turning the Tide 3:32
8. Take to the Sea 3:28
9. The Great Shadow 5:22
10. Here Be Dragonlords 8:30

Band members
Andy Barton – lead vocals
David Hills – guitars
Fabio Garau – keyboards
Nelson Moreira – bass
Mo Abdelgadir – drums

Guest musicians
Hector Clark – backing vocals on “The Last Dragon Warriors”
Julia Zelg – additional vocals on “War’s Come to Our Shores” and “The Last Dragon Warriors”
Nick Thurtell – additional vocals
Prash Sarma – additional vocals

Album Review – Corrosive Sweden / Blood and Panic (2019)

An electrifying fusion of an old school feeling twisted and coated perfectly with a modern sound, hailing from the beautiful (and corrosive) Sweden.

Described as a hybrid between old school Thrash Metal and Melodic Death Metal, Swedish five-piece unity Corrosive Sweden has recently released a brand new opus entitled Blood and Panic, dealing with personal issues and changes faced by all band members. “The album has really been worked through and is a pure reflection of our personal lives. It is probably the best material we have done so far,” said the band in an interview, with the music found in Blood and Panic, recorded over a few years by the members themselves in their own studio Dark City Sounds, being a well-balanced mix of an old school feeling twisted and coated perfectly with a modern sound, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Metallica, In Flames and Soilwork, among others.

Formed in the distant year of 1997 in Hudiksvall, Sweden, the band comprised of Johan Bengtsson on vocals, Christer Ulander on the guitar and keyboards, Peter Forss also on the guitar, Magnus Nordin on bass and Daniel Hedin on drums has already released a number of recordings and played at several clubs and festival in Sweden through the years, bringing their Heavy Metal infused with a wide range of elements from classic Hard Rock to Punk Rock and Power Metal to the ears of metalheads from all over the world. Now with Blood and Panic the band continues to pave their metallic path, sounding unique but at the same time offering recognizable fragments from their musical influences in each of the nine songs from the album.

The riffs by Christer and Peter will pierce your skin until Daniel comes crushing with his beats in Fire from a Gun, a fusion of modern-day Heavy Metal with Groove Metal showcasing an amazing balance between clean vocals and harsh roars, followed by the title-track Blood and Panic, just as electrifying as the opening track. Both guitars are on absolute fire, providing Johan all he needs to vociferate manically in a hard-hitting, straightforward display of Melodic Death Metal by the quintet, also delivering some sick guitar solos to our avid ears. And it seems like they want to slash our faces in half with their vicious riffs in Speed, even more modern and melodic, and with its backing vocals providing a powerful support to Johan while Daniel pounds his drums just the way we like it in heavy music.

Venturing through more aggressive and darker lands, Christer and Peter kick some ass with their Iron Maiden-inspired riffs and solos in Angry Me, whereas Angel or a Beast sounds like a bastard hybrid of Pantera, Rob Zombie and Godsmack, which obviously translates into awesomeness. Once again the band’s dynamic guitar duo shreds their axes nonstop, extracting sheer rage and groove from their stringed weapons while Johan delivers one of his best vocal lines of the entire album; and bringing forward elements from more alternative styles of heavy music, Terrified as I Die showcases Magnus’ thunderous bass and Daniel’s hammering beats adding a lot of stamina to the overall result (despite not being as exciting as the rest of the album).

Dirtier-than-usual vocals and riffs are the main ingredients in Parasite, a great option for hitting the road or slamming into the mosh pit, as long as you don’t stop banging your head to their neck-breaking riffs and beats, of course. At the Top is another high-octane extravaganza by Corrosive Sweden, bringing forward a solid instrumental led by Daniel’s classic drums while Johan keeps screaming and shouting with a lot of energy and precision, before more rage and despair flow from Johan’s vocal lines in the closing tune Black Paint, with the music remaining absolutely heavy and groovy from start to finish, putting a vibrant ending to Blood and Panic.

After the album is over, just keep raising your horns for Corrosive Sweden as those guys deserve it for their hard work and deep passion for heavy music, and of course don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel. As mentioned in the beginning of the review, Blood and Panic, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify and on sale from several locations like Apple Music and Amazon, is a solid and thrilling amalgamation of styles and subgenres of heavy music, beautifully celebrating the band’s devotion to all things metal and showing the world once again why (corrosive) Sweden has always been one of the most important and prolific countries in the history of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Fire from a Gun, Angry Me and Angel or a Beast.

Worst moments of the album: Terrified as I Die.

Released in 2019 BMP Records Sweden

Track listing
1. Fire from a Gun 3:31
2. Blood and Panic 3:13
3. Speed 3:39
4. Angry Me 5:24
5. Angel or a Beast 3:40
6. Terrified as I Die 5:04
7. Parasite 4:21
8. At the Top 3:57
9. Black Paint 3:37

Band members
Johan Bengtsson – vocals
Christer Ulander – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Peter Forss – guitar, backing vocals
Magnus Nordin – bass
Daniel Hedin – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Ela

ELA ROCKS!

Hailing from the charming Stuttgart, capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state and known for the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche headquarters and museums, our metal chick of the month of August is ready to set fire to The Headbanging Moose with her powerful vocals, stunning looks and deep passion for Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll, and Heavy and Power Metal. Furthermore, you’ll certainly find her evolution in music quite interesting, from her mellower, radio-friendly Pop Rock early days to her current ferocious beast mode, blasting first-class Heavy Metal for our absolute delectation, always ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the raven-haired vocalist Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn, or if you prefer you can simply call her Ela, frontwoman for German Melodic Heavy Metal band ELA and a woman that beautifully represents the power and importance of women in contemporary metal music.

You won’t find a lot of personal details about our dauntless Ela on the internet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to read, learn and enjoy about her. Let’s say that if you want to know more about Ela, all you have to do is search for her own band ELA, as in the end the two can be considered the same entity. In other words, there’s no Michaela Eichhorn without ELA and vice-versa, which means we’ll be focusing on Ela’s career with her band on this humble tribute to this talented German singer, starting with the band’s inception over ten years ago, in the year of 2006. As a matter of fact, we can go a bit further than that, to the year of 2004, when Ela was part of a Karlsruh, Baden-Württemberg-based band named Com’n Rail, with whom she released the full-length album Out of My Universe that same year (and you can still buy the album from Amazon or from Discogs).

After several concerts all over Germany to promote Out of My Universe in the following years, Com’n Rail split up in 2006, with Ela finally founding what’s known today as ELA. However, as already mentioned, the band’s first releases, those being the EP’s Out of Time and Little Lies, both released in 2008, and the full-length albums Passion, from that same year, and Make My Day, from 2009, showed a much smoother side of Ela, offering her fans a fusion of classic Hard Rock with pop and alternative music. Ela’s debut EP Out of Time featured German musician J.R. Blackmore (the son of Ritchie Blackmore and his former German wife Margit, and known from bands like EBC Roxx and Over the Rainbow) on the guitar, with the invitation originating from Ela herself after listening to one of his instrumental pieces during a radio interview in Hamburg and falling in love with his refined technique. Upon returning home that night, she sent an email to Mr. Blackmore inviting him to participate in her album, he obviously accepted the invitation, and two weeks later the single Out Of Time was recorded (check out the official video shot at the legendary rock club Headbangers Ballroom in Hamburg HERE), with the full EP featuring the aforementioned single, a couple of original songs  by Ela and instrumental pieces by Mr. Blackmore, and a cover version for UFO’s Queen of the Deep. As a consequence of the very positive feedback received from fans and the specialized media, the duo went on a fairly extensive European tour after the release of the EP, not to mention the official video was played on many German music channels such as iMusic1 TV, Hit24, Deluxe TV and Streetclip.Tv.

The year of 2008 also witnessed the release of her first full-length album Passion, which you can listen in full on YouTube, again drawing excellent feedback and very positive reviews from the media. This was Ela’s first cooperation with Martin Engler of Mono Inc., which also happened in her next album. Songs like After the Rain and Out of Time achieved great success among fans of her music, the first single Little Lies made it onto several radio playlists for several weeks, her cover versions for Credence Clearwater Revival’s Who’ll Stop the Rain and Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me were simply amazing, and Bleed got its own official video, shot at a castle for Ela’s own delight. “I’m a huge fan of castles, and it was my utmost wish to film on the historic grounds of a fortress. Just the masonry is ever so fascinating, and for a song like ‘Bleed’ I couldn’t have imagined any other location”, said our talented frontwoman.

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In 2009 Ela was back in action with a more rockin’ sonority with the album Make My Day, featuring re-recorded songs form her previous releases, and new songs like Here to Stay, Who (Won’t You Tell Me) and Right for the Devil, and once again featuring Martin Engler on drums, percussion, keyboards, programming and other arrangements. Ela had a few nice words to say about this heavier and harder version of her music. “The atmosphere in a studio is different to the one on stage, where you’re being swept away by the energy of your fans. Before you pick a song for an album, you work for weeks on that tune until it is to your perfect liking. However, and I think I speak for many of my musician colleagues here, after a while you may dislike this song and/or you suddenly get new ideas for it. Music has a lot to do with emotions, so I think that your own feelings play a major role here. When you know that you’re due to play live shows, it gets you in a different mood, you feel changed. I can only speak for myself, but I felt an overpowering urge to bring these songs across way harder – well, I guess, I simply wanted to ROCK more,” she commented, already pointing to a heavier future for her band.

Although Ela might not have released any new material under her own band until 2015, in 2010 she founded together with J.R. Blackmore and keyboardist Tony Carey (Rainbow) the project EBC Roxx,  having released the album Winners Vol.1 that same year,  with the song Silver Arrows being the anthem to accompany the first race of Mercedes Formula 1 pilots Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg that season. Then after a short hiatus Ela returned in 2015 with her band ELA showcasing a more visceral and metallic sound in Nervous Breakdown, featuring among several hard and heavy songs a medley of two of Slade’s biggest classics, Cum On Feel the Noize and Gudbuy T’Jane. Produced by Jörg Uken (Soundlodge Tonstudio) and mixed by Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Beyond the Black, Edguy), Nervous Breakdown led Ela and her bandmates to promote the album on a tour with the iconic band Bonfire, proving once again she was on the right path in heavy music.

In 2016 Ela and her henchmen got even more metal with the release of the EP Out Of This World, presenting a much harder sonority closer to the Symphonic Metal played by bands such as Nightwish and Lacuna Coil, as you can see in this live version of the song This Kaleidoscope from 2017. Then in 2017 ELA finally achieved its most metallic form with the release of the full-length opus Second Reality, featuring powerful songs like Deadly Sins, therefore explaining why the album stayed in the Top 20 of the German Rock and Metal Charts for weeks. Ela’s metal side received so much praise from fans, critics and media from all over the world her band even toured around Germany as a supporting act for the one and only Grave Digger, not to mention Ela’s guest vocals in 2019 in the title-track Facing the Demon, from the album Facing the Demon, by German Melodic Heavy Metal act Reternity. Having said all that, you might be asking yourself what’s next for Ela, right? Well, no one knows exactly what our dark-haired singer will bring to our avid ears in the future, but we can rest assured it’s definitely going to rock our world.

ELA’s Official Facebook page
ELA’s Official Instagram
ELA’s Official YouTube channel

Concert Review – Heavy Montréal 2019 Day 2 (Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC, 07/28/2019)

The fans at Heavy Montreal will always be thankful to the almighty Slayer for their final and utterly devastating concert in Quebec.

INTRODUCTION: Alive and Kicking 10 Years On

The 10th anniversary of Canada’s biggest and most important metal festival, our beloved Heavy Montreal, couldn’t have been celebrated in greater fashion than what metalheads from all over Canada and from several other countries were able to enjoy at the always beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau. Although this was just my second time at Heavy Montreal, not counting the two editions of Heavy T.O. in 2011 and 2012, I must say the overall organization this year was a lot better than in 2014 (check our reviews for both days of the 2014 edition HERE and HERE), with a better layout, better access and exit, better facilities, food trucks, washrooms and so on, which was reflected in the happiness and good vibes flowing from all fans that were literally burning under a merciless sun in a (finally) scorching hot Canadian summer. As I was only able to attend day 2 of the festival, I’m not going to talk about any of the Saturday attractions, so if you’re curious to know how that day was go check the festival’s official Facebook page. And if you’re a hungry metalhead visiting Montreal for Heavy Montreal next year or any other metal concert, I highly recommend Il Focolaio for a delicious pizza or calzone to recharge your batteries before slamming into the circle pits.

SKILLET

Let’s begin with the first band I saw on Sunday, American Christian Hard Rock act SKILLET, who began their fun but not-so-heavy performance at 4:05pm when the sun and the temperature were hotter than the fires of hell. John Cooper, Korey Cooper, Seth Morrison and Jen Ledger put on a pretty good concert during the 45 minutes they had, with songs like Legendary, Sick of It and Hero receiving a very warm feedback from the crowd. I honestly had no idea they were a Christian band, but who cares? They might not be as heavy as most attractions of the festival (or maybe they’re too heavy for less extreme festivals), but they play with a lot of passion and energy, and I guess everyone who was watching their performance noticed that and showed a lot of respect for the band. Not only John is a great frontman, but the two girls Korey (who’s John’s wife) and Jen kicked ass on the guitar, piano, drums and vocals, bringing an amazing feminine touch to the entire festival. In a nutshell, if a heavier-than-usual (but not too extreme) version of modern-day Rock N’ Roll is your cup of tea, I’m sure you’re going to have a very good time watching Skillet live.

GAMMA RAY

As soon as Skillet’s performance was over, it was time for German Power Metal masters GAMMA RAY to fill the airwaves of the festival with some true old school Heavy Metal, especially because the band comprised of the iconic vocalist and guitarist Kai Hansen, bassist Dirk Schlächter, guitarist Henjo Richter, drummer Michael Ehré and second (or first) vocalist Frank Beck was the only attraction of the entire festival who played that type of music. I’m a longtime fan of Mr. Hansen’s music and I was very happy I could witness them playing at Heavy Montreal instead of another Alternative Metal band, but I don’t think most of the attendees had the same reaction when the band hit the stage. I mean, there were still countless fans banging their heads and raising their fists to classics like Master of Confusion, Heavy Metal Universe and Send Me a Sign, but there was something missing to make the show memorable. And to be fair, I still don’t understand why the band needs Frank Beck; he’s a good vocalist, but he doesn’t bring any real value to Gamma Ray’s performance. His microphone was lower than Kai’s, he didn’t sing most of the songs, and the songs he did sing were just OK. I think putting that crazy dude that was all wet dancing samba (and several other rhythms) nonstop on the gray mud to dance on stage would have been a lot more fun than Frank’s performance, don’t you agree?

IN THIS MOMENT

There was no time to breathe as, the second Gamma Ray were over, we were all able to witness a fantastic and very theatrical performance by the stunning Maria Brink and her henchmen (and henchwomen), collectively known as American Alternative Metal/Metalcore band IN THIS MOMENT. The aforementioned Maria, who I dare to say looks and feels like an evil (and of course improved) version of Lady Gaga, together with Chris Howorth on lead guitar, Randy Weitzel on rhythm guitar, Travis Johnson on bass and Kent Diimmel on drums, plus the two sexy masked dancers who worked as some sort of “mirrors” to Maria, delivered a truly hypnotizing concert, with their music being a blend of the blasphemy and anti-religiousness of Marilyn Manson and Cradle of Filth with the insanity of Slipknot and Ghost. The final result was obviously fantastic, with my two favorite songs of their setlist being by far the demented Big Bad Wolf and the closing song Whore, where Maria’s dancers entered dressed up as characters from the excellent dystopian novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, holding sings with the words “SHAME” and “WHORE”. In the end, In This Moment kicked some serious ass without a shadow of a doubt, leaving all fans at Heavy Montreal extremely satisfied and eager for more of the music by metal’s favorite “whore” in a not-so-distant future.

HEAVY MANIA

When the next attraction from the Apocalypse Stage started, American stoner metallers Clutch, I went for a walk as I needed a break and some water. Terror and Demolition Hammer were on fire on the Forest and Garden stages, respectively, but I decided to watch the last wrestling show of the festival in the area called HEAVY MANIA, featuring wrestlers of the International Wrestling Syndicate like The Green Phantom, Sexxxy Eddy and Tabarnak De Team. The name of the fatal-four battle I was able to watch was “Le Cauchemar D’Oppenheimer”, and it was so fun I even missed the beginning of Slash’s concert. Well, it was definitely worth it, with Sexxxy Eddy winning the match amidst some trash talk and a few destroyed tables, just the way we like it in underground wrestling.

SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS

Back to the Heavy Stage, it was time for the one and only SLASH, accompanied by Myles Kennedy on vocals, Frank Sidoris on the guitar, Todd Kerns on bass and Brent Fitz on drums to bring old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock to our avid ears. It was still very hot in Montreal, but because the show started at 7:15pm the sun was already lower and we were able to enjoy the concert without sweating like pigs. Myles Kennedy, who looks like a rocker version of Kevin Bacon, is such a great singer to the point I even forgot it was Slash on the guitar at times, showcasing all his refined skills in excellent songs like Anastasia, World on Fire and, of course, their cover version for one of Guns N’ Roses biggest hits, Nightrain. Slash was precise as usual with his unmatched riffs and solos, not to mention how happy he looked on stage, making me wonder if he’s only playing with Guns N’ Roses nowadays to have enough money to fund his solo career. Well, I’m actually happy he’s in both bands, so I can’t complain about that at all. Anyway, at this point of the festival we had already had several subgenres of heavy music, as you can see, except for our good old Thrash Metal. Guess what happened next?

ANTHRAX

From 8:15pm on, Heavy Montreal became Thrash Montreal, with Anthrax and the almighty Slayer leading us all the way into the eye of the circle pit. First, it was American Thrash Metal institution ANTHRAX who revved up our engines with their punk/hardcore-infused thrash, blasting classic moshing hymns like Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time and Antisocial for our vulgar delectation, as well as their already classic tribute to the deceased Dio, Lemmy and Dimebag with the beautiful In The End. Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante were unstoppable during their short but extremely vibrant performance, inspiring all fans to raise their fists and horns in the air and mosh like there’s no tomorrow. Moreover, I don’t know why but the festival organization decided it was a good idea to throw more cold water on the crowd when it was already nighttime, making some people run away from the stage due to that. Maybe they were trying to calm down the more excited fans who were crushing their skulls into the circle pit, who knows. What I know for sure is that I love Thrash Metal, just like Scott Ian asked us all, and I was more than happy to be able to witness one of the bands of the Big Four once again in my life.

SLAYER

Lastly, the moment everyone at Heavy Montreal was waiting for. The heaviest, most evil and most demonic band in the history of music, Thrash Metal titans SLAYER, took the province of Quebec by storm for one final time before calling it quits by the end of this year, which is something I still cannot believe but that makes total sense taking into account their age, everything that has happened to the band in the past decade, and the humongous amount of energy needed to play their music at the required (and insane) level. Although the opening acts might not have been as demolishing as their 2018 concerts in Canada, when Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God opened for them like their pulverizing concert at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph were beyond possessed during their incendiary performance at Heavy Montreal, proving once and for all why you can play Black Metal, Death Metal or any other type of extreme music, but you’ll never be as badass as Slayer.

If their 2015 album Repentless was indeed their last studio album ever, let’s say they’re retiring in style, as the intro Delusions of Saviour plus the frantic thrashing hymn Repentless were everything they needed to set fire to Heavy Montreal. After that insane start it was pure Armageddon, with old school classics such as Evil Has No Boundaries and Mandatory Suicide being intertwined with newer songs like World Painted Blood and Payback (as Mr. Araya said, “payback is a bitch, motherfucker!”), and even songs they haven’t played in a while such as Gemini, Temptation and Born of Fire. By the way, Slayer played nothing more, nothing less than FIVE songs from Seasons in the Abyss, including of course the battle hymn War Ensemble (where Mr. Araya kindly asked us all to scream “WAAAAAAAAAR!” together with him), the serial killer-inspired classic Dead Skin Mask, and obviously the album’s flawless obscure title-track, or in other words, half of their 1990 masterpiece for our total delight. Furthermore, it was absolutely amazing witnessing all fans at the festival screaming “SLAAAAAYYYYEEEERRRR!”, “FUCKIN’ SLAYER!” and even “OLE OLE OLE OLE! SLAYER, SLAYER!” at the top of their lungs before, during and after the concert, showing a beautiful connection with the band as they masterfully played an avalanche of Thrash Metal classics amidst the flames burning on stage, ending with the all-time classic Angel of Death, including Mr. Araya’s famous demented roar at the beginning.

Gary Holt was once again fantastic on the guitar (needless to say, I can’t wait for the next Exodus album), Paul Bostaph couldn’t stop smashing his drums and our skulls, and Kerry King was the usual beast incarnate shredding his guitar chords manically from start to finish while all fans slammed their souls into the never-ending mosh pits. However, it was Tom Araya who stole the show with a perfect vocal performance, and after everything was said and done he didn’t leave the stage until he could thank each and every fan at the festival for our passionate support through the years. We could clearly see he was very emotional, very touched by our love for Slayer, and we were able to read his lips when he said “I’m gonna miss you, guys…” while tears fell from his eyes. Well, we’re going to miss his screams too, if that’s actually going to be the end of Slayer. Kerry King didn’t cry but he simply raised both fists in the air and roared like a wild beast, as the “demonic machine of Thrash Metal” he is. Maybe that’s his way of saying “thank you!” and crying tears of joy? At least that’s what all fans kept doing while returning from the festival on the subway, screaming SLAYER! SLAYER! SLAYER! nonstop. And that’s what we’ll keep doing forever and ever, even if Quebec, the rest of Canada and any other part of the world never see the band playing live again after this farewell tour is over. Thank you, SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYEEEERRRRR! Heavy Montreal loves you!

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Evil Has No Boundaries
World Painted Blood
Postmortem
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Gemini
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
Payback
Temptation
Born of Fire
Seasons in the Abyss
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Black Magic
Dead Skin Mask
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Album Review – Reternity / Facing the Demon (2019)

An exciting display of Melodic Heavy Metal by four experienced musicians from the German scene, dealing with the struggles we all have with our inner demons and temptations.

Founded in the summer of 2018 in Heilbronn, a city in northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany, by Stefan Zörner (SpiteFuel, Lanfear, Strangelet) on vocals, Carsten Sauter (Mighty D., Pyroclasm) on guitars and bass, Semen Brik (Echo.Mensch) also on the guitar, and Sascha Beul (Remember Twilight, Darkness Ablaze) on drums, four experienced and skillful musicians from the German Heavy Metal and Hard Rock scene, Melodic Heavy Metal outfit Reternity has just released their debut full-length album, entitled Facing the Demon, following up the successful release of their 2018 two-track demo, which received an amazing feedback from both fans and critics. Dealing with the struggles we all have with our inner demons and temptations, something that’s beautifully depicted in the album artwork, Facing the Demon was carefully produced by Jonas Kümmerle at Analog Mixing Studio, taking the album’s overall sound quality to a whole new level and, therefore, allowing those Swabian metallers to shine throughout 40 minutes of heavy music, ranging from classic Hard Rock to more berserk styles such as our good old Thrash Metal.

The acoustic guitars by Carsten and Semen kick off the intro Strings of Sor 1: Sunset, working as the calm before the storm for Last Days of War, a frantic and very melodic Heavy Metal tune with thrashing elements, as if Anthrax decided to play a faster version of Hard Rock. Moreover, Stefan leads his metal brigade with his ass-kicking, angry vocals, keeping the energy level really high until the next song, titled Tomorrow’s History, comes crushing our minds with another incendiary performance by the band’s guitar duo while Carsten keeps rumbling the foundations of the earth with his bass lines, also bringing some soulful guitar solos just the way we like it in Power Metal. Then the spoken words by Stefan in the melodic bridge Reternity II set the tone for the amazing Hard Rock power ballad I Love the Night, highly inspired by 80’s Glam Metal but with the band’s own modern twist. As the sound of guitars and bass fills every empty space in the air, get ready to sing the song’s awesome chorus alongside those German metallers in great fashion.

In Down. Not. Broken, one of the songs from their 2018 demo and another potent tune infused with Thrash Metal nuances, it’s time for Sascha to pound his drums mercilessly, therefore adding tons of electricity and stamina to the musicality, with Carsten and Semen once again kicking us in the face with their riffs and solos. The title-track Facing the Demon is a lesson in Symphonic Power Metal, with Stefan and guest vocalist Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn (frontwoman for German Melodic Heavy Metal band E:L:A) being on fire and utterly flawless on vocals, while the guitars and bass sound absolutely metallic from start to finish for our total delight; whereas in Singularity all instruments, in special the bass lines, present a lot of Progressive Metal nuances, sounding more modernized than the rest of the album, albeit not as vibrant. Furthermore, Stefan does a great job on vocals as usual, with the song’s acoustic ending also being a nice addition to the overall result.

The second song from their 2018 demo, Suicide Butterflies, is a very rhythmic and solid creation by Reternity, showcasing an electrified Sascha on drums while Carsten brings considerable amounts of progressiveness and groove with his riffs and bass punches; followed by Stone to Mouth, featuring German singer Chantal Freier doing a gorgeous introduction to the song in her mother tongue. Overall, it sounds like a fusion of the music by Skid Row, Gojira and Anthrax with alternative music from the 90’s, with all the shredding plus the German words being welcome extra touches to such vibrant composition. And last but not least, Carsten and Semen fire acoustic guitar lines one last time in the outro Strings of Sor 2: Sundown, closing the album on a serene note; however, keep listening to it for the hidden track All Grey, a fun and frantic Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll party with highlights to Stefan’s vocal performance boosted by the song’s effective backing vocals.

You can show your support to those skillful and unrelenting Teutonic metallers by following them on Facebook, and of course by purchasing your copy of Facing the Demon (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the MDD Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. Because, you know, if you’ve decided you’re finally going to face your inner demons from now on, keeping your head high and without any fear of failure, the best way to do that is accompanied by our good old Heavy Metal, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Last Days of War, I Love the Night and Facing the Demon.

Worst moments of the album: Singularity.

Released in 2019 MDD Records

Track listing
1. Strings of Sor 1: Sunset (Intro) 1:05
2. Last Days of War 4:22
3. Tomorrow’s History 3:50
4. Reternity II 0:54
5. I Love the Night 2:55
6. Down. Not. Broken 3:32
7. Facing the Demon (feat. Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn) 4:31
8. Singularity 5:34
9. Suicide Butterflies 4:18
10. Stone to Mouth (feat. Chantal Freier) 4:47
11. Strings of Sor 2: Sundown (Outro) 1:12
12. All Grey (Hidden track) 2:39

Band members
Stefan Zörner – vocals
Carsten Sauter – guitars, bass
Semen Brik – guitars
Sascha Beul – drums

Guest musicians
Chantal Freier – female vocals (intro) on “Stone to Mouth”
Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn – female vocals on “Facing the Demon”

Metal Chick of the Month – Romana Kalkuhl

I was born to burn! Maiden of steel!

After a short and sweet break, The Headbanging Moose returns in full force with our metal chick of the month of July, elevating the temperature in the always hot summer in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re a diehard fan of old school Heavy and Power Metal the likes of Warlock, Judas Priest, Accept, Manowar and Grave Digger, I’m quite sure you already know our metal lady, but in case you’re still not familiar with her refined technique and deep passion for heavy music here’s a good chance for you to go after the music from her ass-kicking bands Burning Witches and Atlas & Axis. Hailing from the metallic lands of the charming and beautiful Switzerland, here comes the talented Swiss guitarist Romana Kalkuhl, ready to take the world of heavy music by storm armed with her inseparable stringed axe for our total delight.

Born in 1990 in Switzerland, Romana, whose full name is Romana Eskić-Kalkuhl (as she’s married to Swiss guitarist Damir Eskić, from the bands Destruction and Gomorra), comes from a family of musicians who have always supported her decision to become a professional guitar player. For instance, her father Meinolf Kalkuhl is an opera singer in Zurich, Switzerland, while her mother is a piano teacher. All that support resulted in the formation of her first professional band in 2009 while she was still in university. That band is Aargau-based Heavy Metal act Atlas & Axis, with whom Romana has already recorded two full-length albums, those being March of the Night, in 2011, and Confrontation, in 2014, not to mention all concerts the band has already played live. You can enjoy the Iced Earth-inspired sound of Atlas & Axis and Romana’s incendiary shredding on YouTube by listening to songs like Power and Might, Elements, To Violence and These Words, among many others, as well as the song Winter played live at the Dynamo in Zurich in 2014. Unfortunately, due to her current commitment to Burning Witches, our blonde warrior doesn’t have the necessary time to focus on Atlas & Axis at the moment, which means the band is on hold until further notice.

It was in the spring of 2015 in the city of Brugg, a municipality in the Swiss canton of Aargau, when Romana founded Heavy/Power Metal unity Burning Witches, following her personal dream of performing on stage with an all-female metal band. Earlier that year she started looking for talented women for her new project, with her longtime friend, bassist Jeanine Grob, becoming the band’s first official member. Then during a party at a festival she met vocalist Seraina Telli, from bands like Dead Venus, Rizon and Surrilium, starting a very healthy and productive partnership between them, with Seraina’s ideas and experience from her studies at the Music Academy and her bands being exactly what Romana wanted for Burning Witches. Having the one and only Schmier, vocalist and bassist for German Thrash Metal institution Destruction, as their producer and consultant (and a personal friend of Romana, by the way), and with drummer Lala Frischknecht and guitarist Alea Wyss completing the lineup after an intensive search and several auditions, Romana and her Burning Witches were finally ready to crush with their classic metal music.

Since the band’s inception, Romana and the girls have already released two full-length albums (their self-titled debut album in 2017, and Hexenhammer in 2018), one four-track live album named Burning Alive, recorded on September 30, 2017 at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, and now in 2019 they re-released Burning Witches / Burning Alive as a combo under Nuclear Blast. If you want to feel the power of their metal sword, simply go to Spotify or to YouTube and enjoy some flammable Heavy Metal anthems such as Wings Of Steel, Black Widow, and Executed, or many other live footage from Romana and the girls slaying everything and everyone that crosses their path like their flammable performance at Sweden Rock Festival in 2019; their concert in 2018 in Mannheim, a city in southwest Germany; and their powerful pocket show at Salzhaus Brugg in 2018.

Sadly for all fans of the band, lead singer Seraina Telli left the band earlier this year for personal reasons, being replaced by Dutch vocalist Laura Guldemond, from bands like Shadowrise and Synergy Protocol, and of course Romana had a few words to say about that change to her band. “This is, of course, a very sad moment for all of us. We have been very close for the last years and have reached a lot together. With great sadness we have to accept that Seriana wants to move on and we wish her the best of luck for that! Your time with the Witches will never be forgotten! For us as a band, it is important now to look into the new challenges and the new record — the show must go on!”, complementing her thoughts by saying that “we are super thrilled that we have found Laura so quick over our Dutch connection Sonia. We know it is impossible to replace a great voice in exact the same way; that is why Laura is the perfect choice for us. She will bring in her own strength and personality into the Witches! We will not change the identity of the band; we will continue playing the music we love! Laura is an experienced and crisp vocalist with a big range and a crazy enough personality to be one of us! Please give her a warm welcome — she has already won many metalhearts at our first show with her at the Sweden Rock Festival! We will continue to spread the magic of the witches — thanks for all the support over the years!”

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Regarding the fact that the band has become more international with the addition of Laura to their lineup, the second Dutchwoman in the band, Romana said that the collaboration between them is quite dynamic, with the Dutch girls flying to Switzerland over the weekend for rehearsals and concerts, while the rest of the time everyone practices their music from home. She also mentioned in one of her interviews that her main goal when she started Burning Witches was to have fun with the band, not because of success itself, complementing by saying that if one day that pleasure of playing with Burning Witches is over, then the band will also be over. In addition, when asked about how she keeps the band as independent and feminine as possible even with the influences of Damir and Schmier, she said that their help is based on their experience, something the girls from Burning Witches don’t have enough yet, and that Damir’s support was crucial to make everything happen, always keeping in mind the band was going to be (and will always be) an all-female metal band.

Romana’s list of idols and influences can easily be felt in the music by Burning Witches, with her favorite styles ranging from Heavy, Thrash, Death and Black Metal to Hard Rock and even Progressive Rock. According to Romana herself, the bands that have influenced her the most (and the entire band, of course) are Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Saxon, Accept, Dio and several other renowned acts from the NWOBHM. Also, in regards to her equipment, Romana has always played Charvel and Jackson USA guitars, since the beginning, saying those are the best ones in her opinion, and although she’s endorsed also by Fender (apart from Charvel and Jackson, of course) she doesn’t use it when playing live just because she has so many instruments of the other two manufacturers. And before I forget, did you know she also plays classical guitar? Our dauntless metalhead is not only a shredder, but as you can see she’s also a woman who adds a touch of finesse to her guitar lines.

When questioned about the differences and disparities between men and women not only in Heavy Metal, but in music in general, Romana said that it might look easier to be an all-female group at first, attracting a lot of attention form the media and the fans (especially when all band members are beautiful like the ladies from Burning Witches), but it only gets harder and harder as time goes by due to the systemic sexism found everywhere, complementing by saying that many people will see them as just “pretty faces” and think that it’s a man who’s doing all the job in the background. Romana also said that one of the very positive effects of her all-female band is serving as the inspiration for other women to attend their concerts and start their lives in metal, which in my opinion is indeed an amazing change to a music genre mostly dominated by men, whereas the more sexist metal fans ended up reacting very negatively to their music. Who on earth wouldn’t enjoy watching five talented women kicking some serious ass on stage, playing old school metal music? You have to be really stupid, and not just sexist, to think the Burning Witches are not a great metal band.

Anyway, as aforementioned, Romana is married to Damir Eskić, guitarist for Destruction and Gomorra (which was previously called Gonoreas), and it was actually during a Gonoreas’ concert that the couple met, with Damir having a huge influence on Romana’s playing style as he was the one who taught her a lot about the instrument (albeit she already knew how to play it from her school years). On a side note, Romana said she was impressed by Miriam Zehnder, who played the rhythm guitar at Gonoreas at that time, also saying her stage presence fascinated her a lot, showing how connected Burning Witches and Gomorra are not only because of Romana and Damir. In addition to that, Romana said her relationship with Damir is quite healthy, dynamic and fun, with Damir being for example the music collector while she’s more interested in clothes, and so on. Damir considers himself the coach, the moral preacher and the main supporter of the Burning Witches, keeping the girls happy and motivating them even in difficult situations, all confirmed by Romana who also said Damir also makes sure he gives them a motivating speech before every concert, getting them ready to rock on stage.

Both Romana and Damir seem to be extremely busy professionals, and when asked about how they manage all their duties and their relationship, including their music lessons as both are teachers at different music schools (Romana works at three different schools while Damir works at two schools and at the conservatory in Winterthur), she said although they don’t actually have time for anything else, they still manage to have a normal life as a couple, as all those things have already become a part of their everyday life. Furthermore, the couple might not have real rings, but the dates tattooed on their fingers already say it all, showing a lot of mutual respect and admiration between them, with Romana saying that although they’ve already been together for over a decade seeing each other pretty much daily, they still miss each other when they’re on tour in different parts of the world, mentioning for example how difficult it was during the two week Damir was away with Destruction this year. She wasn’t really complaining about that because she understands how hard it is to be part of a band that tours a lot and how lucky both are for being in successful bands, but let’s face it, it’s indeed tough to be away from your loved one no matter what, even if it’s in the name of our good old Heavy Metal.

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