Album Review – Lady Beast / The Vulture’s Amulet (2020)

The Heavy Metal beasts from Pittsburgh return with another sensational round of soaring vocals, incendiary riffs and classic drums in their fourth full-length opus.

After hundreds of concerts, festivals, tours, three full-length albums, one EP and one compilation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Heavy Metal machine Lady Beast is more than ready to celebrate over 10 years kicking ass and spreading their fulminating music all over the world with their fourth full-length opus entitled The Vulture’s Amulet, an ode to all things metal highly inspired by behemoths the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Mercyful Fate and Motörhead. Featuring a beyond stylish and sexy artwork by American artist Adam Burke (Nightjar Illustration), The Vulture’s Amulet has everything it takes to conquer the hearts of any diehard metalhead, from soaring vocals to breathtaking riffs and blast beats, showcasing all the talent, energy and passion flowing from frontwoman Deborah Levine, guitarists Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler, bassist Greg Colaizzi (who has just left the band, being replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Adam Ramage and, above all, proving once again heavy music is still alive and kicking inside our hearts forever and ever.

Classic, razor-edged riffs ignite the frantic and electrifying ode to heavy music titled Metal Machine, filling every single space in the air with electricity and rage before Deborah comes ripping with her powerful and piercing vocals, or in other words, an 80’s classic metal hymn released a few decades later, in 2020. And get ready for another metal storm led by Andy and Chris with their incendiary riffage in Runes of Rust, a Judas Priest-inspired hymn where Adam smashes his drums with tons of precision and groove, sounding as old school as it can be; while the sick bass lines by Greg generate a thunderous atmosphere perfect for the band’s guitar duo to pierce our ears with their riffs in The Gift, a beautiful fusion of the music by renowned Teutonic bands like Grave Digger, Running Wild and Accept, giving you all you need to bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

Then phantasmagorical guitars à la Mercyful Fate are one of the main ingredients in Sacrifice to the Unseen, while Deborah continues to kick us in the head with her feminine and ferocious vocal lines, also bringing the most electrifying elements from classic Hard Rock to the overall result, followed by the even more metallic and inspiring Betrayer, reminding me of some of the best songs from Judas Priest’s 1978 classic album Killing Machine (or Hell Bent For Leather), with Deborah being simply fantastic on vocals accompanied by the NWOBHM-like riffs by Andy and Chris. And drinking from the same fountain as Iron Maiden in their instrumental classics “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)” and “Transylvania”, but of course with Deborah’s ass-kicking vocals embellishing the airwaves, we have The Champion, an epic Heavy Metal anthem filling our hearts with hope, fire and, of course, Heavy Metal.

It’s time to put the pedal to the (heavy) metal in the absolutely furious, high-octane tune entitled Transcend the Blade, this time a fully instrumental track with Andy and Chris spearheading their sonic onrush, firing beautiful riffs and solos for our total delight, whereas slowing things down a bit (while at the same time getting darker) the band offers us all the title-track The Vulture’s Amulet, a mid-tempo tune where Greg and Adam are ruthless with their thunderous bass and drums, respectively, with Deborah returning in full force declaiming the song’s stylish lyrics. and last but not least, the closing tune Vow of the Valkyrie is an exciting and flammable feast of old school riffs and solos, blast beats and the always killer vocals by Deborah, resulting in a true born-to-be-an-underground-metal-classic bringing forward an amazing guitar “duel” by Andy and Chris tailored for lovers of the seven-stringed ax.

In a nutshell, as already mentioned, The Vulture’s Amulet has everything one might ask for in traditional Heavy Metal, plus of course the mesmerizing touch added by Deborah with her she-wolf vocals, and if you want to show Lady Beast your true support you can buy the album directly from their BandCamp page, from the Reaper Metal Productions webstore (in both vinyl and cassette formats), from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as stream it in full on YouTube and on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, proving to Deborah and her henchmen you’re worth joining their metal den and with The Vulture’s Amulet being the perfect soundtrack for enjoying a cold beer deep down there together with those heavy music beasts.

Best moments of the album: Metal Machine, The Gift, Betrayer and Vow of the Valkyrie.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Reaper Metal Productions

Track listing
1. Metal Machine 3:15
2. Runes of Rust 4:26
3. The Gift 5:09
4. Sacrifice to the Unseen 5:09
5. Betrayer 3:29
6. The Champion 5:24
7. Transcend the Blade 3:42
8. The Vulture’s Amulet 5:14
9. Vow of the Valkyrie 5:03

Band members
Deborah Levine – vocals
Andy Ramage – lead guitar
Chris Tritschler – rhythm guitar
Greg Colaizzi – bass
Adam Ramage – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Thalìa Bellazecca

I was raised by the storm and I’m living to serve my own pride!

Amidst one of the worst crisis the world has ever been through, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing nothing but fear, anger and darkness to our hearts, let’s pay a humble tribute to the beautiful Italy, where the virus has had so far the most devastating outcome, by providing you, our dear readers, with an overview of the life and career of the gorgeous, skillful and unstoppable Thalìa Bellazecca, the young and restless guitarist for Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown, bringing some joy to our hearts and souls during such difficult times. If you, like almost all of us here, are quarantined and getting bored due to the lack of things to do, perhaps this short and sweet homage to Thalìa and all her countrymen, and of course her razor-edged riffs and solos, can help you enjoy your time of confinement a lot better.

Born on April 19, 2000 in Cantù, a city and commune in the Province of Como, located at the center of the Brianza zone in Lombardy, Italy, Thalìa Bellazecca is of Italian and Cuban origin, which explains her undeniable talent, groove and passion for music, and that’s exactly what we are going to focus on in this humble tribute to such distinguished shredder, as Thalìa seems to be a very reserved woman who lives and breathes music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Furthermore, it’s impossible not to talk about Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown, the band where we have all been able to witness Thalìa kicking some serious ass with her incendiary guitar since 2017.

Formed back in 2017 by guitarist and vocalist Federico Mondelli in the Italian metropolis of Milan, one of the global capitals of fashion and design, and fronted by the powerful singer Giada Etro (already known for her work in Ashes You Leave), Frozen Crown are a Power Metal band infused with classic Heavy Metal and Melodic Death Metal vibes, having released since their inception the singles The Shieldmaiden and Kings, in 2017, and Neverending, in 2019, and the full-length albums The Fallen King, in 2018, and Crowned in Frost, in 2019, where the band minimized their  Symphonic Metal side and amplified their core Heavy and Power Metal considerably. As a matter of fact, although you can enjoy Thalìa’s refined technique and stunning looks in pretty much all of Frozen Crown’s official videos, all guitars in both of their albums were recorded by Federico (except for the guitar solo in Kings, which was recorded by our metal lady Thalìa), who was also responsible for all keyboards and artworks as well. You can enjoy all of their albums and songs directly from their BandCamp page (where you can obviously buy their music, as well as from their Big Cartel page) and also stream everything on Spotify.

However, as aforementioned, who said we cannot have a blast with Thalìa in all official videos released by Frozen Crown through the years? You can definitely enjoy Thalìa shredding her strings in great fashion while she bangs her head like a maniac in amazing Power Metal anthems such as  Neverending, Kings, Everwinter, I Am The Tyrant, Forever and The Shieldmaiden, and if live performances are your cup of tea how about taking a shot at some of the band’s live footage playing their ass-kicking metal music to the masses like in the songs Kings, Fail No More, The Shieldmaiden and I Am The Tyrant live at C.G. Busto Arsizio in 2018 in Varese, Italy; Kings live in Toulouse in 2020; Arctic Gales/Neverending and Winterfall live at Dagda Retorbido in 2019 in Pavia, Italy; To Infinity live at Arci Tom in 2018 in Mantua, Italy; or simply enjoy this live footage of Frozen Crown taking the German cities of Munich, Augsburg and Aschaffenburg by storm in 2019.

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Apart from her career with Frozen Crown, we can also witness Thalìa embellishing the airwaves with her riffs and solos in a few other very interesting projects and bands; for instance, during part of 2018, Thalìa was one of the live guitarists for Russian Thrash Metal female-fronted band Pokerface, whose music can be described as a fusion of the music by Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom and Kreator. Also, Thalìa is one of the guitarists for a sensational Megadeth tribute band called Nuclear Winter, formed in 2015 by vocalist and guitarist Paolo Ingianni and active in the best Lombard and Piedmontese rock clubs since 2016. You can check their official Instagram and YouTube channel for more information on the band, such as this incendiary cover version for Tornado of Souls live in 2019 at Rock’N’Roll Milano.

In addition to all that, our dauntless left-handed shredder plays the guitar for the Italian Women Tribute, a music project that was born in 2016 from an idea by Andy Rox and is the first and only rock tribute to Italian female voices existing in Italy (and you can also find more information about it on their Instagram besides their official website), and was recruited to record a solo on one of the songs for a Syrian project called Storm of Death, of Adnan Al Hamdan, his third album featuring a selection of over 120 guest musicians from over 44 countries, which you can take a better look on the project’s official Facebook page. The song where we’ll have the pleasure of listening to Thalìa slashing her strings is not available yet, but I’m sure soon enough we’ll hear more from Adnan or from Thalìa herself with a link to listen to it.

Highly influenced by a vast array of guitar heroes such as Kiko Loureiro, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker and Yngwie Malmsteen, among countless others, our stunning guitarist manages her own YouTube channel, uploading several videos on a regular basis showcasing all her skills and passion for heavy music and rock in general. You can enjoy Thalìa and her inseparable ax playing cover versions for Kiko Loureiro’s Moment Of Truth, Frozen Crown’s Queen Of Blades, Joe Satriani’s Headrush and Satch Boogie, and Megadeth’s Conquer or Die, or simply watch her doing some guitar improvisation showing how talented she is. And last but not least, I believe I don’t need to say Thalìa also ventures through the realms of modeling, right? Just by looking at her gorgeous photos you probably guessed that yourself, and if you’re curious to know more about that distinguished side of our guitar hero you can check her work (and of other models) on the official Instagram of PERSONA, from Milan. Having said all that, I think we must all admit that Thalìa has it all, a ravishing look and style, an undeniable talent armed with her guitar, endless stamina and a deep and healthy addiction to Heavy Metal. If that’s not the perfect combination for a true headbanging woman, I honestly don’t know what could be.

Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Facebook page
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Instagram
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Twitter
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official YouTube channel
Frozen Crown’s Official Facebook page
Frozen Crown’s Official Instagram
Frozen Crown’s Official Twitter
Frozen Crown’s Official BandCamp page

Album Review – Ani Lo. Projekt / A Time Called Forever (2020)

May your heart and soul be filled with the timeless Heavy Metal blasted by Ani Lo. and her henchmen forever and ever in their sophomore full-length opus.

Brought into being in 2010 in Sofia, the capital of the Balkan nation of Bulgaria, when well-known Bulgarian singer Ani Lozanova (also known as Ani Lo.) and her long-term musical partner, drummer Konstantin Dinev (also known as Kossy D.) decided to join forces to create a project of their own, Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal act Ani Lo. Projekt will bring to your ears a powerful and metallic sound in their sophomore album, entitled A Time Called Forever, the follow-up to their 2011 opus Miracle presenting 12 breathtaking creations composed by Jens Faber (Dawn Of Destiny), who also played guitar, bass and keyboards on the entire album, as well as some growls and clean vocals. Recorded and mastered by Markus Teske at Bazement Studio, featuring an array of guest musicians the likes of Eric Dow (Helsótt), Michael Thionville (Voodoma) and Ani Lo.’s own husband Lachezar Stefanov, and displaying a classy artwork by Bulgarian artist Deliana Stoyanova, A Time Called Forever will undoubtedly please all fans of the music played by bands such as Lords Of Black, Almanac, The Unity and Within Temptation, blending the most symphonic, epic and harmonious elements form classic Heavy and Power Metal.

Kossy begins hammering his drums in the epic and symphonic opening track Break My Chains, with Jens providing Ani all she needs to shine with her potent vocals by blasting crisp background keys and wicked growls, followed by the title-track A Time Called Forever, a beyond mesmerizing tune showcasing Arabian elements and the piercing vocals by Ani, inspiring you to bang your head nonstop while the band smashes your senses with their kick-ass Symphonic Heavy Metal. Featuring guest vocals by Lachezar Stefanov, Bleed is an upbeat composition where the keys by Jens and the beats by Kossy generate an incendiary paradox perfect for admirers of the very melodic but still ferocious and high-octane side of Power Metal, and even more epic and imposing than its predecessors, End Up in Sorrow is a song where Ani steals the spotlight with her enfolding vocals, sounding as if Nightwish and Epica had the mighty Doro on vocals, not to mention Jens’ stunning keys.

Back to a more frantic and very sharp sonority, The Letter presents Kossy kicking some serious ass with his Helloween/Stratovarius-inspired beats, with Jens once again sounding bestial with his guitar riffs and solos; whereas again investing in more melodious and fiery sounds the band offers the gorgeous ballad Back to You, where the passionate vocals by Ani are boosted by Jens’ souful riffage while Kossy keeps the pace very pleasant with his beats. Then we have Cold Death, a galloping and fierce aria of Power Metal by the trio with Ani’s vocals sounding even more captivating, feeling like a song form the Middle Ages turned into modern-day metal music, and Feel Inside, perhaps the most generic of all songs despite its positive message and another solid performance by all band member, especially Jens with his guitar solos, never really taking off (but nothing that causes any damage to the album).

Featuring guest vocals by Michael Thionville, who by the way makes a flammable duo with Ani, Fly with Me is another passionate ballad by Ani and her henchmen, showcasing epic keys and spot-on drums, being therefore perfect for enjoying it with your significant other in your arms. Then again venturing through the realms of Symphonic Power Metal the band explodes our senses with the fantastic Don’t Leave (This World), where Ani hypnotizes us all with her potent, high-pitched lioness roars while guest Eric Dow delivers sheer rage through his growls, making it impossible not to raise your fists to such epic tune; and it’s time to put the pedal to the metal in a Melodic Metal extravaganza titled My Misery, where again we’re treated to the awesome Ani-Eric duet, living up to the legacy of renowned acts like Stratovarius and Kamelot, sounding absolutely fast and thrilling thanks to the unstoppable beats by Kossy. And the last blast of heavy music by Ani Lo. Projekt comes in the form of the ballad Walk Alone, where Ani’s deep vocals are accompanied by gentle piano notes and an embracing atmosphere until the very end.

The multi-talented Ani Lo., Kossy D. and Jens Faber are waiting for you on Facebook, and if you want to show your utmost admiration and support for such distinguished group of musicians you should definitely purchase A Time Called Forever from countless locations such as the Season of Mist webstore, Record Shop X, HMV, Apple Music and Amazon, as well as stream it in its entirety from YouTube and from Spotify. And may Ani and her awesome Ani Lo. Projekt keep reigning forever and ever not only in the metallic Republic of Bulgaria, but anywhere else in the world where our good old Heavy Metal is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: A Time Called Forever, End Up in Sorrow and My Misery.

Worst moments of the album: Feel Inside.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Break My Chains 4:52
2. A Time Called Forever 5:47
3. Bleed 4:27
4. End Up in Sorrow 5:16
5. The Letter 3:53
6. Back to You 3:23
7. Cold Death 4:07
8. Feel Inside 3:13
9. Fly with Me 5:13
10. Don’t Leave (This World) 3:19
11. My Misery 3:53
12. Walk Alone 4:15

Band members
Ani Lo. – vocals
Kossy D. – drums
Jens Faber – guitars, bass, keyboards, growls, clean vocals

Guest musicians
Eric Dow – vocals on “Don’t Leave (This World)” and “My Misery”
Michael Thionville – vocals on “Fly With Me”
Lachezar Stefanov – vocals on “Bleed”

Album Review – Burning Witches / Dance with the Devil (2020)

The witches are back to mesmerize us all and put us to dance with them forever and ever to the sound of their incendiary Heavy Metal.

Swiss Heavy/Power Metal outfit Burning Witches is by far one of the hottest exports from the Alpine Republic since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2017, receiving a very positive feedback from fans and critics from all over the world. Formed in 2015 in Brugg, a Swiss municipality and a town in the canton of Aargau, the band currently comprised of Dutch newcomer Laura Guldemond on vocals (replacing the band’s original singer Seraina Telli in 2019), Romana Kalkuhl and Sonia Nusselder on the guitars, Jeanine Grob on bass and Lala Frischknecht on drums is ready to show the world everything they got once again with their third full-length installment Dance with the Devil, the follow-up to their highly acclaimed sophomore album Hexenhammer, released in 2018, and a lesson in Heavy Metal by five talented ladies who have always loved and breathed heavy music that will certainly inspire you to raise your horns and bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

An eerie, mesmerizing intro titled The Incantation captivates our senses for the infernal Lucid Nightmare, with Romana and Sonia blasting sheer adrenaline through their sick riffage. Put differently, it’s classic Heavy Metal from the 80’s with Laura kicking some serious ass with her witch-like, soaring vocals, setting the bar really high for the rest of the album. Then it’s time to dance with our beloved Swiss witches in the title-track Dance with the Devil, a Hard Rock extravaganza led by Lala’s spot-on beats and Laura’s stunning vocals while the band’s stringed trio fills every single space in the air with adrenaline and electricity; followed by Wings of Steel, originally released in their 2019 EP Wings of Steel, a pure Heavy Metal tune showcasing the band’s dexterity and passion for what they do, all spiced up by Romana’s and Sonia’s classy guitar solos.

And Laura keeps blasting her high-pitched, piercing vocal lines in Six Feet Underground, another solid tune where Jeanine and Lala make the earth tremble with their low-tuned, metallic weapons, whereas in Black Magic we’re treated to an introspective, melancholic intro where Laura beautifully declaims the song’s words, evolving into a stunning ballad presenting passionate guitar solos and an ethereal atmosphere, showing a more delicate side of the band. Less visceral than the previous songs but still heavy-as-hell, Sea of Lies is a good composition bringing to our ears a great performance by Lala on drums, providing her bandmates a solid base for them to effectively slash their strings, while a Judas Priest-inspired riff kick off the metallic anthem The Sisters of Fate, perfect for banging your head nonstop with the girls or for hitting the road with your loved ones. This is the epitome of the band’s killer Heavy Metal with a Rock N’ Roll twist, with their guitar riffs and solos penetrating deep inside our minds.

Necronomicon is one of the darkest and most devilish of all songs, with Laura impersonating a true witch with her raspy, demonic vocals while Jeanine doesn’t stop hammering her bass strings, also presenting more of the band’s razor-edged riffs and solos, and bringing forward Helloween-inspired riffs blended with the classic Hard Rock by bands like Europe and Survivor we have The Final Fight, another lesson in charisma and vocal potency by Laura, therefore highly recommended for singing along with the band. Then taking their heaviness to a new level the quintet blasts the battle anthem Threefold Return, presenting an old school shredding infused with rumbling bass punches and rhythmic drums which will please all fans of classic Heavy and Power Metal without a shadow of a doubt, and lastly we have their cover version for Manowar’s classic Battle Hymn, featuring guest guitarist Ross the Boss (Manowar, Ross the Boss) and guest bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X, Ross the Boss). This is a sensational rendition by the witches with a welcome feminine touch, and still as strong and insurgent as the original version (which you can take a listen at HERE).

If you consider yourself a true metalhead and you think you have what it takes to face the stunning metal witches from Switzerland, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course go grab your copy of the breathtaking Dance with the Devil (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the Nuclear Blast webstore in different formats by clicking HERE or HERE. Hence, after putting your hands on such entertaining album of heavy music, you’ll quickly realize the unrelenting Burning Witches have taken over your mind for good, inspiring you to dance with them forever and ever to the sound of their undisputed Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Lucid Nightmare, Dance with the Devil, The Sisters of Fate and The Final Fight.

Worst moments of the album: Sea of Lies.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Incantation 0:57
2. Lucid Nightmare 4:50
3. Dance with the Devil 4:26
4. Wings of Steel 4:29
5. Six Feet Underground 4:31
6. Black Magic 5:06
7. Sea of Lies 4:56
8. The Sisters of Fate 3:31
9. Necronomicon 4:12
10. The Final Fight 4:35
11. Threefold Return 3:56
12. Battle Hymn (Manowar cover) 6:55

Band members
Laura Guldemond – vocals
Romana Kalkuhl – guitars
Sonia Nusselder – guitars
Jeanine Grob – bass
Lala Frischknecht – drums

Guest musicians
Ross the Boss – guitars on “Battle Hymn”
Mike LePond – bass on “Battle Hymn”

Album Review – Scarlet Aura / Stormbreaker (2020)

Join the stunning Aura Dănciulescu and her henchmen in their quest for heavy music with the breathtaking second volume of their conceptual “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy.

My fellow metalheads, it’s time to visit the charming and vibrant Romania, more specifically the country’s capital Bucharest, to have an absolute blast with Stormbreaker, the breathtaking fourth studio album by a Heavy and Power Metal unity that has been making a name for themselves since their inception in 2014 under the name Aura, but currently known by the stylish moniker of Scarlet Aura, marking the official release of the second fantasy book volume from the conceptual “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy after their 2018 installment Hot’n’Heavy, and showing the entire world who they are through the album’s musical and lyrical parts. And let me tell you that Stormbreaker is even more powerful than its predecessor, putting the band comprised of the stunning frontwoman Aura Dănciulescu, guitarist Mihai Dănciulescu, bassist Rene Nistor and drummer Doru Florin Gheorghita in the spotlight of not only the Romanian metal scene, but anywhere else in the world where people live and breath our beloved Heavy Metal.

“As an artist I’m not afraid to dig into the unknown by approaching sensible subjects in our songs, subjects like the difficulty of being honest with others but also with yourself regarding your own feelings, the need of overcoming a huge sufferance that troubles you, the lack of courage when it’s about doing the right thing, the lack of love or the crying for it… Subjects that make ourselves human, subjects that are in each one of us and that make us who we are and maybe throughout our music, we get recovered, healed or better, we discover ourselves for who we really are because with any doubt music heals the spirit, metal heals the heart,” commented the band’s front lady Aura about their brand new opus, with Mihai adding that “Stormbreaker continues the heavy metal statement we started with Hail To You and although “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy takes these albums into a fantasy world of discovering Scarlet, I think we’ll all realize after listening that actually Scarlet is in each one of us. Stormbreaker comes rough, it comes straightforward, it comes in your face with the powerful rhythms, edgy guitar riffs, almost psychedelic guitar solos, hard crunchy bass lines, modulations and surprises at every step not giving you the time to get bored but to want more after every song, all of us exceeding even our own expectations.”

The cinematic intro The World Is Not Enough (perhaps inspired by the James bond movie of the same name released in 1999) welcomes the listener to the magic world of Scarlet Aura, setting the stage for the infernally heavy Metal Hell, spearheaded by the soaring vocals by Aura and exhaling epicness and rage from start to finish. Furthermore, Mihai is bestial with his riffage while Rene and Doru keep the atmosphere as dense and thunderous as it can be. And the band keeps the momentum going by firing a high-octane, melodic and absolutely demolishing hymn title Battle Cry, where Mihai and Rene are superb with their stringed weapons, not to mention Aura’s enfolding vocals as usual. Needless to say, this metal anthem will work majestically when played live, which can also be said about the title-track Stormbreaker, where the band presents their more melodic side, leaning towards classic Hard Rock at times and with Rene kicking some serious ass with his rumbling bass while Doru keeps pounding his drums in great fashion.

Loose Cannon has a delicious vibe à la Iron Maiden’s classic “Stranger in a Strange Land” thanks to the thunderous job done by both Rene and Doru, but it’s Aura who steals the spotlight with her potent voice. Put differently, simply bang your head nonstop to the band’s classy and rebellious Heavy Metal. And Mihai ignites the also thrilling and vibrant I Am The One with his razor-edged riffs, again flirting with Hard Rock but keeping the band’s metallic core essence intact, therefore sounding and feeling like it was originally recorded in the 80’s; whereas it’s time to slow things down and enjoy a passionate and flammable performance by Aura in the ballad High In The Sky, showcasing an ethereal and serene ambience while Mihai blasts his precise riffs and solos throughout the entire song. Then incendiary guitar lines take the lead in the upbeat, insurgent anthem The Heretic, where Aura is yet again fantastic with her deep and potent roars, resulting in a lesson in Heavy Metal with a darker twist, all spiced up by Doru’s crushing beats.

Adding hints of Punk Rock and Hardcore to their classic Heavy Metal, the band brings forward the dancing tune Daddy’s Lil Monster, displaying an amazing sync between Rene and Doru in the background while Aura leads her henchmen with her enthralling voice. Back to a more classic sonority the band offers our ears the good (but not as exciting as the rest of the album) A Blast From The Past, presenting a decent job done by all band members despite losing its grip after a while, and closing the album Aura and the boys bring forth their own fast-and-furious metal hymn titled Scarlets United, blending elements from bands like Helloween, Judas Priest and Primal Fear into their already electrifying musicality, with Mihai putting the pedal to the metal with his wicked guitar solos and, consequently, leaving us eager for more of Scarlet Aura’s beautiful metal music as soon as the album is over.

The Book Of Scarlet is open and Scarlet Aura are more than ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with its sensational second chapter Stormbreaker, and if you want to know more about this up-and-coming Romanian squad, listen to more of their music and keep an eye on their tour dates, simply follow them on Facebook, on VKontakte and on Instagram, listen to more of their music on Spotify and, above all that, purchase your copy of Stormbreaker from the band’s official webstore in CD or LP format, as well as from other locations like Apple Music and Amazon. Aura and the boys are united in their quest for metal, ready to head into the battlefield and armed with their newborn spawn Stormbreaker, positioning the band as one of the most promising new names of the scene. Having said that, what are you waiting for to officially become a “Scarlet” in the name of Heavy Metal?

Best moments of the album: Metal Hell, Battle Cry, Loose Cannon and The Heretic.

Worst moments of the album: A Blast From The Past.

Released in 2020 Silver City Records

Track listing
1. The World Is Not Enough 1:56
2. Metal Hell 6:03
3. Battle Cry 4:33
4. Stormbreaker 4:27
5. Loose Cannon 6:06
6. I Am The One 3:55
7. High In The Sky 6:15
8. The Heretic 5:46
9. Daddy’s Lil Monster 4:48
10. A Blast From The Past 5:29
11. Scarlets United 5:09

Band members
Aura Dănciulescu – lead vocals
Mihai Dănciulescu – guitars, backing vocals
Rene Nistor – bass, backing vocals
Doru Florin Gheorghita – drums

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