Concert Review – Slipknot (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/20/2019)

An awesome night of heavy music spearheaded by the world’s most beloved and rebellious masked horde, showing everyone that if you’re 555, then Toronto is 666.

OPENING ACTS: Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat

Blackened Death Metal, Progressive Groove Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Alternative Metal. What at first it might look like the distinct styles you usually find at an European metal fest during the summer is actually the lineup of the 2019 edition of the highly-acclaimed Knotfest Roadshow, and fortunately for us Torontonians the one and only Slipknot and their friends from Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat brought that amalgamation of very different but utterly electrifying genres to the always great Budweiser Stage on another hot summer day in the city. It was a Tuesday, just the beginning of the week, which means most people who attended the show still had an entire week of work after around six intense hours of loud beats, unstoppable riffs and demented circle pits. Well, who cares, right? It’s all in the name of our good old Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Just by arriving at the venue you could see it was going to be a very special day for longtime fans of Slipknot, with several of them being properly dressed as their idols, including some wicked (and a few weird) masks, showing how much those people love and respect a band that revolutionized metal music 20 years ago and that are still alive and kicking. If you had the opportunity to arrive to the Budweiser stage right when the gates were opened, you were able to enjoy a lot of different attractions such as a special Slipknot exhibition right beside where 2018 Wacken Metal Battle Canada winners Centuries of Decay (you can see more details about their 2018 win HERE) where blasting their first-class Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal, enjoy one or more of the several food trucks available, test your knowledge of metal music by taking a fun quiz at the Monster Energy truck (needless to say, I had all six answers correct and got myself a nice Monster Energy bandana), or even take a picture with that crazy dude who tried to swim back to the Slayer concert in 2018 at that same venue. He was wearing a personalized shirt about his 2018 incident and two arm floats. Yes, he’s that crazy.

However, when the clock hit 5:30pm sharp, it was time for the gods and demons of heavy music and all fans that were already at the venue (and I was surprised by the huge number of people that managed to get there in time for the very first concert) to witness another blasphemous, theatrical and absolutely heavy-as-hell performance by Poland’s own BEHEMOTH. Still promoting their awesome 2018 opus I Loved You At Your Darkest, the iconic Nergal and his henchmen Seth, Orion and Inferno delivered a short and sweet concert for fans of their darker version of Death Metal, literally spitting fire, blood and blasphemy on our faces for around 40 minutes, with songs like Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,  Bartzabel and Chant for Eschaton 2000 proving why they became one of the most beloved extreme bands of the past decade, and also one of the most hated and abhorred by any type of church (which in the end is a very positive thing).

Setlist
Solve
Wolves ov Siberia
Daimonos
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Bartzabel
Conquer All
Sabbath Mater
Chant for Eschaton 2000

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

After a quick break the stage was ready with all of its lights aiming at our faces to warn us the pulverizing concert by French Progressive/Groove Metal institution GOJIRA was about to begin, and let me tell you it was simply fantastic and insanely heavy from start to finish. The Duplantier Brothers Joe and Mario, together with Christian Andreu on the guitar and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass delivered a neck-breaking performance for our total delight, leaving us all eager for more of their music in Canadian lands. I loved how heavy, dense and thrilling songs like Stranded, Flying Whales (my favorite of their setlist) and Silvera sounded last night, and we must thank Mr. Mario Duplantier for that. The guy is an untamed beast on drums, crushing his drum set flawlessly and throwing almost all of his sticks to the fans throughout his bestial performance. After such devastating concert by Gojira, I must say once again there’s only one thing I hate about festivals, and that’s the fact bands like Gojira do not have enough time to show the crowd everything they got.

Setlist
Toxic Garbage Island
Backbone
Stranded
Flying Whales
Love
The Cell
Silvera
The Gift of Guilt

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums

After two demolishing concerts of extreme music, it was time to cool things down a bit with the heavier-than-usual Rock N’ Roll by Danish institution VOLBEAT, who are just beginning to promote their newest album Rewind, Replay, Rebound. As a big fan of Volbeat, I was a little worried about how the most berserk Slipknot fans would react to their fusion of lighter styles like Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock, and during the first few songs let’s say most fans weren’t impressed with their music. However, after Sad Man’s Tongue (preceded by a snippet of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”) and Black Rose, featuring Toronto’s own Danko Jones on vocals together with Michael Polsen, things started to pick up and the more than 13 thousand fans at the venue who were already anxious for Slipknot had a great time with the band, especially when they played their heavier stuff like A Warrior’s Call, Dead But Rising and Seal the Deal. In a nutshell, it might not have been the best slot to add Volbeat, right after Behemoth and Gojira and right before Slipknot, but you know what? In the end it all worked really well, something only talented bands like Volbeat can do even against all odds.

Setlist
Born to Raise Hell (Motörhead song)
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Lola Montez
Sad Man’s Tongue
Black Rose (with Danko Jones)
The Everlasting
Slaytan
Dead But Rising
A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
Last Day Under the Sun
Doc Holliday
Seal the Deal
Still Counting
Sawdust in the Blood (Rob Zombie song)

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar
Jon Larsen – drums

SLIPKNOT

It was already past 9pm when the speakers began playing AC/DC’s rock anthem “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”, getting our engines revved up for a storm of heaviness, insanity and explosions by American institution SLIPKNOT. It was total chaos and anarchy from start to finish, with the first few songs from their setlist, those being the classics People = Shit, (sic) and Get This, already inspiring all their fans to go absolutely mental into the pit. The temperature at the Budweiser Stage was just going up, with their new songs Unsainted, Solway Firth (both from their brand new, ass-kicking album We Are Not Your Kind) and All Out Life working even better than expected. As a matter of fact, I was more than sure those three songs would sound fantastic on stage, first because they’re already damn good songs, but mainly due to the fact Slipknot on stage always take their heaviness to the next level.

Corey, Mick, Jim and all others were on fire during their long and incendiary performance, with all their stage paraphernalia (and the Budweiser Stage is just perfect for that type of concert) adding a very welcome touch of insanity to the night. Not only that, it was visible how Corey was extremely happy to be back in Toronto after a long time, letting all the energy coming from the crowd penetrate deep inside his mind and helping him growl and scream like a beast until the very end. “We’ve been at this for 20 years! It hasn’t always been easy, but looking at all of you here tonight, I can safely say we’ll be doing it for another 20,” said a more-than-excited Corey to his fans before crushing their heads once again with their venomous music. I honestly have no idea if they can keep that level of violence on stage for another two decades, but if they keep going and delivering top-of-the-line heavy music like what Slayer have been doing until now, we can rest assured rock and metal will never die.

Although the fans at the floor section were out of control inside some killer circle pits, I must say the most demented guy from the entire night was the band’s newest member Tortilla Man. How deranged and talented is that guy? He kept pounding his drums, screaming, jumping up and down, dancing and hitting his beer kegs as hard as possible without showing any signs of fatigue for almost two hours; now I fully understand why the rest of the band is so happy and excited to have Tortilla Man in the band. The only field where he wasn’t number 1 in madness and precision was dancing, because that’s Mr. Sid Wilson’s undisputed title. I don’t know for sure what exactly he does behind his turntables, but when he’s there dancing and having fun around the stage it’s a whole new thing. That guy is just as sick as his music, no doubt about that. Anyway, after the all-time hits Spit It Out (including their famous “get down/jump the fuck up” interaction with the crowd) and Surfacing, it was time for Slipknot to say goodbye, to promise us all they will return to Toronto, and for the fans to breather a little and try to recover their energies to try to get home safe and sound. And as one final message after such amazing night of metal music, all I have to say to you is that if you’re 555, then I’m 666. As simple as that.

Setlist
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) (AC/DC song)
(515)
People = Shit
(sic)
Get This
Unsainted
Before I Forget
Solway Firth
The Heretic Anthem
Psychosocial
The Devil in I
Prosthetics
Vermilion
Custer
Sulfur
All Out Life
Duality

Encore:
Spit It Out
Surfacing
‘Til We Die

Band members
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables, keyboards
(#4) Jim Root – lead and rhythm guitars
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – samples, media, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – custom percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – lead and rhythm guitars
(#8) Corey Taylor – lead vocals
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Jay Weinberg – drums
Tortilla Man – custom percussion, backing vocals

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Album Review – Inanimate Existence / Clockwork (2019)

A pulverizing album of Technical and Progressive Death Metal by a ruthless Bay Area triumvirate, dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth.

Formed in 2011 in the renowned Bay Area, in the state of California, United States, Progressive/Technical Death Metal trio Inanimate Existence returns in 2019 with a brand new opus entitled Clockwork, the follow-up to the group’s highly praised fourth album, Underneath a Melting Sky, released in 2017. Featuring a futuristic and whimsical cover art by by Justin Abraham (who has already worked with bands like Equipoise, Aepoch and Oubliette), with additional artwork by Mark Erskine (from Erskine Designs), recorded by Inanimate Existence and Zack Ohren, and mixed and mastered by Zack Ohren at Shark Bite Studios in Oakland, California, Clockwork delves deeper into cerebral Progressive Death Metal depths, while buoyed by the group’s established penchant for merciless full-throttle brutality and frenetic tech-death driven terrain.

And the band comprised of Cameron Porras on vocals and guitar, Scott Bradley on bass and backing vocals, and Ron Casey (Continuum, Brain Drill) on drums had a few nice words to say about their newborn spawn. “We’re thrilled to finally be able to share our 5th studio album with all of you! This is definitely the most work we have ever put into an album by a long shot. Sound wise I’d say that it’s a continuation of our last album but much more polished and mature,” commented the band, describing Clockwork’s thematic focus as “dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth. It explores the questions we torment ourselves with during life along with the irony of how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe. The title refers to the mechanisms of a clock and how every tick brings you closer to your doom.”

The trio begins firing their fusion of insanity and progression mercilessly in the title-track Clockwork, with Ron dictating the rhythm with his furious beats while Cameron brings a touch of delicacy to the music with his guitar riffs and solos, sounding at the same time devastating and very melodic; whereas in Voyager we’re treated to lyrics that exhale insanity (“Isolated, trapped inside the capsule / I fear that I may now be on my own / My crew have perished, and I am alone / Orbiting beyond the atmosphere / My communications are down and the power is cut / I gaze back to the Earth / Wondering, will I be remembered?”), with the music bringing elements from smoother styles like Jazz while Scott extracts sheer thunder from his intricate bass lines. This talented American triumvirate keeps smashing our senses with their vicious Progressive Death Metal attack in Apophenia, as complex and pulverizing as possible, sounding as if the almighty Krisiun went full progressive at times, offering to the listener several neck-breaking moments led by Ron’s insane drumming; and their metal extravaganza goes on in Desert, with all three member firing wicked and intricate sounds and tones from their respective instruments. Put differently, it’s straightforward Progressive Death Metal with a vibrant atmosphere, not to mention Cameron’s sick solos adding some welcome lunacy to the overall result.

In Solitude the band offers us pensive and modern lyrics (“I return to solitude / Where once again I contemplate / What my purpose is inside this burdensome reality / I return to solitude / Where once again I contemplate / What is my purpose?”), while its instrumental parts are absolutely mental, with both Cameron and Ron crushing their weapons nonstop, followed by Diagnosis, where the band continues to slash our ears with the modernized and very complex version of Death Metal. Moreover, the bass lines by Scott sound insanely heavy and metallic, with the music also bringing interesting eerie passages and breaks (despite going on for a bit too long). Then back to a more demonic and infuriated mode we have Ocean, blending the most violent and thrilling elements from Progressive and Death Metal with Ron sounding infernal on drums, therefore providing Cameron the perfect ambience for gnarling deeply and rabidly, once again presenting spot-on melodic and ethereal passages. Lastly, Liberation closes the album with more of the dynamic, electrifying sounds from the depths of the human psyche by the trio, with Scott and Ron bringing thunder to the musicality while Cameron keeps delivering harmonious riffs and solos while growling like a beast until the song’s visceral ending.

You can have your brain shredded into pieces by listening to Clockwork in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and after being stunned by Inanimate Existence simply go check what they’re up to on their official Facebook page, including their tour dates, and purchase your copy of their brand new opus from their BandCamp page, from The Artisan Era webstore (in several exclusive formats and bundles), from Apple Music or from Amazon. As aforementioned, the band itself said that we all struggle with the concept of mortality and our limited time on this planet, which means we should not waste too much time thinking but enjoying some good, destructive and complex Death Metal while we’re alive, with Clockwork being an excellent choice for that.

Best moments of the album: Voyager, Desert and Ocean.

Worst moments of the album: Diagnosis.

Released in 2019 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Clockwork 4:34
2. Voyager 5:40
3. Apophenia 4:37
4. Desert 4:06
5. Solitude 4:42
6. Diagnosis 5:34
7. Ocean 4:55
8. Liberation 6:43

Band members
Cameron Porras – vocals, guitar
Scott Bradley – bass, vocals
Ron Casey – drums

Album Review – Target / Deep Water Flames (2019)

Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by one of the most talented and innovative names of the South American metal scene.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to be absolutely stunned by the music crafted by four extremely talented guys hailing from Santiago, the beautiful capital of Chile, who seem to have mastered the art of blending sheer aggression and tons of progressiveness infused with atmospheric and melancholic passages. I’m talking about a Technical/Progressive Death Metal four-piece unity that goes by the name of Target, who released earlier this year their sophomore full-length opus, the amazing Deep Water Flames, one of the best metal albums of 2019 so far without a shadow of a doubt, and I’m sure you’ll agree with that after listening to such imposing and dense album of extreme music.

Formed in the year of 2002, the band now comprised of lead singer Andrés Piña, guitarist Luis Soto, bassist Rodrigo Castro and drummer Rodrigo Arias put on a lot of hard work, passion for heavy music and talent into the making of Deep Water Flames. Recorded and mixed in Santiago by Erick Martínez at Orange Studio, mastered in Sweden by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Recording Studios, and featuring dark and flammable artwork, design and graphics by Dehn Sora, from Paris, France, Deep Water Flames sounds and feels like a tribute to all things Progressive and Death Metal, captivating all your senses from its first notes until its climatic grand finale, therefore positioning Target as one of the best and most innovative names of the underground scene in South America.

The intro Immerse is absolutely eerie and atmospheric from the very first second, reaching deep inside your soul and warming up your mind for the bold and crushing Inverted Gloaming, featuring Juan Escobar (Aphonic Threnody, AstorVoltaires, Tetractys, Mar de Grises) on vocals. Sounding utterly wicked and experimental, this excellent tune is led by Rodrigo’s insane beats and fills, while Andrés screams in a deranged and visceral way, resulting in a lecture in contemporary Progressive Death Metal. Then once again offering madness in the form of music, the band brings forth No Solace Arises, where Luis is on fire with his razor-edged strings, or in other words, this is a neck-breaking tune where the band’s “Rodrigos” shake the foundations of the earth with their beats and bass punches, making it feel like we’re listening to three or four songs all at once.

As obscure and atmospheric as its predecessors, Oceangrave is a flawless fusion of intricacy and rage, sounding as if Lamb of god went full progressive, showcasing ominous passages blended with Luis’ evil guitar lines and Rodrigo Castro’s damned, thunderous bass roars; followed by Surge Drift Motion, which begins in full force with both Luis and Rodrigo Castro shredding their strings mercilessly. Put differently, it’s a heavier-than-hell version of classic Progressive Metal spiced up by Andrés’ roars, with the piercing guitar solos by the band’s stringed duo being the icing on the cake. Submerged is a futuristic and melancholic instrumental bridge that will mesmerize you and prepare you for the pulverizing Drowned in an Everlasting Mantra, starting in a purely experimental mode before Rodrigo Arias begins exterminating his drums beautifully. Furthermore, sheer violence emanates from every riff and beat, with the deep, bestial growls by Andrés seeming inspired by Deathcore while the instrumental pieces remind me of the gripping music by bands like Gojira and Opeth.

Target Deep Water Flames Digipak

The following song, entitled Blackwaters, couldn’t have started in a more demented way, with its eccentric notes morphing into another brutal feast of progressive sounds where Rodrigo Castro’s bass lines are more imposing than ever. Hence, it’s highly recommended for either slamming into the pit or simply witnessing the band playing it to perfection on stage; and get ready for over nine minutes of the most devastating and intricate form of Progressive Death Metal you can think of in Random Waves, featuring Jeronimo Ruiz (Entrefuego), who brings insanity to the music with his vocals, remaining completely wicked, vile and cinematic until the very end. And lastly, the band offers us the serene outro Emerge, where its piano notes and background elements will embrace you and make you feel comfortable in darkness.

You should definitely take a very good and detailed listen at this magnificent album of Technical and Progressive Death Metal made in Chile on YouTube and on Spotify, and after being hypnotized by Target’s heavy and complex sounds you can purchase Deep Water Flames directly from the band’s BandCamp page, from the Australis Records’ BandCamp page, from Apple Music, from Amazon or from CD Baby. Furthermore, if I were you I would go for the digipak version of the album as it’s simply fantastic. I got it from Australis Records, and let me tell you those guys did a beautiful job producing the physical CD format of such distinct album. Also, don’t forget to follow Target on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and let your body and mind dive into the incendiary deep waters of progressive and heavy music ruled by those extremely talented Chilean musicians.

Best moments of the album: Inverted Gloaming, Oceangrave and Drowned in an Everlasting Mantra.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Australis Records

Track listing
1. Immerse 2:15
2. Inverted Gloaming 6:11
3. No Solace Arises 5:28
4. Oceangrave 5:21
5. Surge Drift Motion 5:42
6. Submerged 2:14
7. Drowned in an Everlasting Mantra 5:24
8. Blackwaters 6:31
9. Random Waves 9:13
10. Emerge 3:59

Band members
Andrés Piña – vocals
Luis Soto – guitars
Rodrigo Castro – bass
Rodrigo Arias – drums

Guest musicians
Jeronimo Ruiz – vocals on “Random Waves”
Juan Escobar – vocals & instrumental arrangements on “Immerse”, “Inverted Gloaming” and “Emerge”

Album Review – Uncured / Epidemic (2019)

Witness the evolution of the music crafted by the Cox Brothers with their pulverizing new album of Progressive Death and Groove Metal.

Founded in New York City by brothers Rex Cox and Zak Cox, who share the band’s vocal and guitar duties, American Progressive Death/Groove Metal unity Uncured has been making a name for themselves since their inception in 2016 when they released their debut EP Spontaneous Generation, followed by their first full-length opus Medusa, released in 2017, which attracted international attention for its combination of technical musicianship, brutal riffs and melodic interludes. After witnessing Uncured opening for renowned acts like Soulfly and the almighty Cradle of Filth last year while promoting their 2017 album Medusa, I’m happy to say those guys stepped up their game considerably with their brand new album, the powerful Epidemic, proving that although they might still be young faces in the scene, they already play and sound like veterans.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by their father Mitch Cox at Conclave Studios, in New York, Epidemic has everything a fan of modern and technical extreme music can ask for, with its crystal clear production enhancing the impact of each song thoroughly played by the aforementioned Zak and Rex on vocals, guitars and bass (as their current bassist Spencer Metela only joined the band after the recording of the album) and Liam Manley on drums.​ The only thing I don’t understand is why they left the excellent 2018 single Terminal out of the album, but that’s just me. And besides, who said Epidemic needed that song to be brutal? I’m pretty sure the boys know what they’re doing, and based on the feedback provided by their fans so far they’re undoubtedly on the right path to stardom with Epidemic.

The opening track Desecration is fast, furious and heavy from the very first second, with the Cox Brothers showcasing all their refined skills with their sick riffs and solos while Liam smashes his drums beautifully in a powerful display of modern Progressive Death Metal, sounding at the same time very technical and visceral. If that was not crazy enough for you, in Choke they take their progressiveness to the next level, and let me say both Zak and Rex are growling and screaming a lot better than in their previous releases, adding tons of rage and insanity to the song’s lyrics (“Tear your throat out / Reject everything from within / This is imperative, all will go black / The problem lies in the silence / There will be nothing that remains, only desolation / As our civilization reverts to dust / This will surely desecrate honor”), whereas in Conquistador the band drinks from the same fountain as modern-day bands like Trivium, delivering flammable riffs and intricate beats and also exploring new grounds by adding acoustic passages and distinct nuances from other metal and even non-metal genres to their music.

Eradicate is another feast of incendiary riffs and solos by Uncured highly recommended for slamming into the pit during their live performances, blending Melodic Death Metal with Groove Metal and an endless amount of progressiveness; followed by Death Valley, where after a serene intro the band comes crushing once again with their groovy and heavy-as-hell sounds, sounding perfect for cracking your neck headbanging and remaining as complex and vibrant as it can be until the very end. And in Resist The Infection all instruments sound absolutely pulverizing and metallic, with Zak and Rex screaming and roaring together like maniacs while Liam keeps the rhythm flowing smoothly with his beats. Put differently, although it might be the shortest of all songs, it still brings tons of stamina, feeling and rage to our avid ears.

The last batch of songs from Epidemic will crush you mercilessly, starting with Sacrifice, a classic Groove Metal tune infused with Death Metal nuances where its guitars and bass penetrate deep inside our minds, making our heads tremble. Furthermore, it feels like a hybrid of the music by Meshuggah, Tool, Dream Theater and other iconic bands, showing once again how talented those guys are. Albeit not as exciting as its predecessors, Stone Fortress is still a very good song, overflowing progressiveness, heaviness and groove, not to mention the usual crisp and piercing guitar lines by the band’s frontmen, while in Blinded By Demise the level of aggressiveness goes through the roof in another metal feast full of breaks and variations where all three band members display their refined skills in great fashion. And last but not least, after a somber, almost tribal intro Uncured attack us all one last time with more of their Progressive Death Metal in Nothing But Disease, with the music alternating between dark passages and extreme rage like the soundtrack to a psychological horror movie, ending in a creepy and captivating way.

There’s no excuse to not listen to Epidemic, as the album is available in full on YouTube, on Spotify and on the band’s official website, and after taking a good listen at it you can purchase your copy from their own BandCamp page or from their webstore in CD or vinyl format, as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. In summary, the Cox Brothers, together with Liam and Spencer, are definitely going places based on the high quality of the music found in Epidemic, presenting a huge step forward in terms of creativity, feeling and overall production after the also good Medusa. Having said that, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, as we might be in front of the next big name from the modern extreme music scene with a long (and prosperous) way to go yet in their promising career.

Best moments of the album: Desecration, Eradicate and Resist The Infection.

Worst moments of the album: Stone Fortress.

Released in 2019 Seek & Strike

Track listing
1. Desecration 4:12
2. Choke 4:19
3. Conquistador 4:45
4. Eradicate 5:07
5. Death Valley 4:47
6. Resist The Infection 2:51
7. Sacrifice 4:04
8. Stone Fortress 4:07
9. Blinded By Demise 4:45
10. Nothing But Disease 4:26

Band members
Zak Cox – vocals, guitars, bass
Rex Cox – vocals, guitars, bass
Liam Manley – drums

Guest musician
Spencer Metala – bass (live)

Album Review – Tragacanth / The Journey of a Man (2018)

Follow the tale of a young man’s downward spiral into the abyss to the sound of the symphonic and progressive devastation blasted by this excellent Dutch quintet.

If you’re familiar with the work by Dutch Symphonic/Progressive Black/Death Metal act Tragacanth, having already listened to their 2015 debut full-length album Anthology of the East, you know how those five skilled metallers love to blend their entrancing melodies and symphonic sections with lyrical themes ranging from spiritual wars to mythical creatures, telling the tales of ancient Babylonian times. Now in 2018 it’s time for the band comprised of Terry Stooker on vocals, Erik Brouwer and Adrian Neagoe on the guitars, Mark Oosterbaan on bass and Jasper van Minnen on drums to strike once again with their sophomore opus entitled The Journey of a Man, this time showcasing a lyrical mix between mythological and purely personal topics, being recommended for fans of cult acts such as Nile, Carach Angren, Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth.

Formed in 2014 in Utrecht, a city in the central Netherlands that has been a religious center for centuries, Tragacanth are one of those bands that do not just create music, spicing up their creations with a fantastic storytelling, and their new album is the perfect depiction of their highly-developed musical and lyrical skills. “From the mystical, enigmatic Far East covered in Anthology of the East, this time we travel to Ancient Greek times where a young man finds out he is to perish soon. Wandering the complex maze of emotions and disease running through his veins, The Journey of a Man tells the tale of his downward spiral into the abyss,” commented the band about their newborn spawn, inviting us all to join this young man in his personal and very obscure journey.

Enter the ominous realm of Tragacanth to the sound of the eerie opening track Survival: Stagnate Reality, a lot more progressive than symphonic I might say, with the band’s guitarists Erik and Adrian giving a lecture in Progressive Death Metal, sounding utterly insane, heavy and intricate. And their creepy guitars and bass lines dictate the rhythm in Denial: They are Mistaken, where Terry sounds diabolical with his gnarling in a brilliant fusion of the Symphonic Black Metal by Dimmu Borgir with the Progressive Death Metal by bands like Augury and Virulent Depravity; followed by Anger: Kitrine Chole, a beautiful devastation blasted by Tragacanth where its bass lines will tremble inside your head while Jasper smashes your skull with his complex and powerful beats, not to mention how demonically Terry vociferates the song’s insane lyrics (“A black haze thwarts / My vision’s blurred / Sever the chains / Composure can’t hold / This pent up energy / The rage breaking free / The walls imploding destroying all what once was”).

Their demented feast of Progressive Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal goes on in the pulverizing Depression: Waning Light, featuring the angelical voice of Romanian vocalist Manuela Marchis, and where the drums by Jasper sound heavier than hell while Terry keeps growling and screaming rabidly, turning it into my favorite song of the album by far.  Then not ready to accept his fate, the man turns to the gods, with the path leading him to Hades, god of the underworld, Thanatos, the personification of death, and eventually to those cruel sisters of fate, the Moirai, resulting in the vibrant Bargaining: Will You Answer Me?, featuring guest vocalist Rik van Schaaik in the role of Hades and Thanatos, among other additional vocal lines, with the music being as infernal and complex as its predecessors thanks to the impressive job done by Erik, Adrian and Mark with their stringed weapons. And a cryptic, Middle-Eastern beginning evolves into a dense and impactful display of Progressive Metal in Nightmare: The Vision, with highlights to its mesmerizing bass punches and ass-kicking drums, ending in a very symphonic and captivating manner.

Once again drinking form the fountain of modern-day Progressive Death Metal, get ready to have your spinal cord broken in half to the brutal headbanging tune Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits, with the guitars by Erik and Adrian bringing a touch of delicacy to this sonic demolition, and their onrush of berserk and intricate sounds goes on in Suffering: The Essence Implodes, where Terry roars like a demon while Jasper shows no mercy for his drums (nor for our necks), also bringing the most pulverizing elements from Death and Black Metal thoroughly added to the musicality. Lastly, darker and more introspective than all previous songs we have Death: Journey’s End, closing the album on a Stygian note, with Erik and Adrian stealing the spotlight with their slashing riffs and soulful solos, not to mention all the poetry flowing form the song’s lyrics (“Let go / Enclaved by the river Styx / Lies a tomb for me / My celestial sanctuary / Let go / An eternal resting place / All alone and forgotten /The Asphodel Meadows”).

As already mentioned, Tragacanth are not your average metal band, being true masters in blending heavy music with a deep and detailed background story, always keeping in mind the band has only a couple of years of existence (which means they still have a lot to grow in the coming years). Hence, The Journey of a Man, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from several different locations such as their own BandCamp, the Pest Records’ BandCamp, the Loud Rage Music webstore, iTunes, Amazon and Discogs, is a fantastic materialization of that impressive ability by those four Dutch metallers, beautifully taking us down into the abyss together with the  album’s main character.

Best moments of the album: Anger: Kitrine Chole, Depression: Waning Light and Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits.

Worst moments of the album: Suffering: The Essence Implodes.

Released in 2018 Pest Records

Track listing  
1. Survival: Stagnate Reality 5:24
2. Denial: They are Mistaken 7:21
3. Anger: Kitrine Chole 4:25
4. Depression: Waning Light (feat. Manuela Marchis) 8:40
5. Bargaining: Will You Answer Me? (feat. Rik van Schaaik) 4:36
6. Nightmare: The Vision 4:54
7. Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits 5:18
8. Suffering: The Essence Implodes 4:55
9. Death: Journey’s End 6:34

Band members
Terry Stooker – vocals
Erik Brouwer – guitars
Adrian Neagoe – guitars
Mark Oosterbaan – bass
Jasper van Minnen – drums

Guest musicians
Manuela Marchis – vocals on “Depression: Waning Light”
Rik van Schaaik – vocals on “Bargaining: Will You Answer Me”

Album Review – Vistery / Death Is Dead (2018)

The new album by this ruthless squad hailing from the Belarusian capital Minsk has everything you crave in old school, crushing Death Metal.

Hailing from the Belarusian capital Minsk, here comes a ruthless Death Metal squad comprised of Ivan “Paranoid” on vocals, Aleksey “Wicked” on the guitars, Alexander “Soulless” on bass and Sergiy “Def” on drums, collectively known as Vistery, ready to crush our heads with their third full-length installment, titled Death Is Dead. Featuring a nocturnal artwork by Mosaeye, Death Is Dead is highly recommended for fans of the violent music by bands like Unleashed, Vader, Entombed and Grave, exhaling hatred and sounding as heavy as hell, which translates into the perfect soundtrack for your anti-social and anti-religious activities.

Vistery started by the end of 2010 as a solo project of Alexey “Wicked” Kizillo, who performed as a guitar player, drummer and vocalist with a number of bands in Minsk for several years, finally reaching the shape and form of a classic Death Metal band in the beginning of 2011. The following two years were very productive for Vistery with the release of two full-length albums, those being Procreation of the Wicked, in 2011, and Sinister Prophecy, in 2012. However, due to unforeseen issues such as several changes in the band’s lineup, Vistery went on a performing hiatus until 2017, when they returned to stage in Vitebsk, followed by the 7th anniversary celebration gig in Minsk. That renewed lineup inspired the band to record a new album, culminating with the pulverizing Death Is Dead now in 2018.

Ominous background noises and the groovy bass by Soulless kick off the vicious intro Winds Of Devastation, where Paranoid manically roars its cryptic lyrics (“Can you see the trees bowing helplessly / In the wake of a devastating power / Can you hear this howl / Rupture your eardrums / Unrelenting pressure / No relief to come”) before all hell breaks loose in Tormentor, a crushing and thunderous Death Metal hymn with tons of progressiveness flowing from Def’s beats and Wicked’s damned riffs, resulting in a dense feast of aggressive sounds perfect for breaking your neck headbanging. Then featuring guest guitarist Anton Smirnov (Goose Enough, Like a Gossamer) we have Rotting Earth, a mid-tempo Death Metal extravaganza spiced up by Progressive Death Metal elements where Soulless keeps smashing our brains with his visceral punches. And are you ready for the most violent and gruesome picnic ever? That’s what the quartet offers you in Picnic Party, with highlights to the deep and brutal work done by both Soulless and Def with their vile instruments.

In Omniphobic, the lyrics reek of old school Death Metal (“I can see your fear of death / Poisoning your every breath / Flight would be your primal instinct / If only your legs weren’t so rigid”) while the music remains as brutish as possible, with Soulless extracting low-tuned, hellish tones form his bass (not to mention the nonstop  smashing beats by Def); followed by Swamp, where the entire band delivers a more rockin’ sonority, even flirting with Melodic Death Metal, spearheaded by the demonic guttural vocals by Paranoid. Moreover, all instruments feel like they were “blessed” by Satan himself, including Paranoid’s vocals, sounding as dark and deep as Death Metal can be. Then it’s time to “die” together with this talented Belarusian act in Die From Within, showcasing great performances by Wicked with his flammable riffs and Soulless with his thunderous bass, while Paranoid roars and gnarls like a true demon, whereas in Black Magic an uncanny intro evolves into brutal devastation led by Def’s frantic beats and fills, getting heavier and more menacing as the music progresses and, therefore, being recommended for admirers of old school, putrid Death Metal, all embraced by a rumbling and obscure vibe.

Guest musician Anton Smirnov returns with his fiery guitar in Mortal Fear, a mid-tempo creation where the whole band is on fire, blasting a thrilling fusion of violence, groove and progressiveness, with Wicked’s guitar reminding me of the always amazing riffs by Cannibal Corpse, and Vistery will make sure your head is smashed with a hammer in Butchery, the perfect depiction of what their music is all about, sounding and feeling heavy, groovy and exciting form start to finish. Furthermore, Paranoid steals the spotlight with his deep roars, helping it become the best song of the album in my humble opinion. And the title-track Death Is Dead is just as thunderous and vibrant as the rest of the album, with the bass punches by Soulless getting more menacing than before. Put differently, there was no better way to end the album than with this ode to classic Death Metal.

If you need to listen to Death Is Dead in full before making the decision of purchasing it and supporting underground Death Metal made in Belarus, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on the band’s own website, on YouTube and on Spotify, but if you’re already familiar with the band’s music and can’t wait to add such demented album to your personal collection, you can get it from the band’s BandCamp page, from iTunes or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow Vistery on Facebook and VKontakte, and subscribe to their YouTube channel, showing the entire world Death Metal is still alive and kicking, with bands like Vistery leading the underworld hordes of devastation with their old school music like what they offer in Death Is Dead.

Best moments of the album: Picnic Party, Black Magic and Butchery.

Worst moments of the album: Rotting Earth.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Winds Of Devastation 1:50
2. Tormentor 2:56
3. Rotting Earth 3:27
4. Picnic Party 3:09
5. Omniphobic 3:39
6. Swamp 4:00
7. Die From Within 2:49
8. Black Magic 3:08
9. Mortal Fear 3:23
10. Butchery 3:02
11. Death Is Dead 3:01

Band members
Ivan “Paranoid” – vocals
Aleksey “Wicked” – guitars
Alexander “Soulless” – bass
Sergiy “Def” – drums

Guest musician
Anton Smirnov – guitar solos on “Rotting Earth” and “Mortal Fear”

Metal Chick of the Month – Lilith Astaroth

Kneeling at my feet, encased in black sheaths of ecstasy… Fulfill your deepest desire to submit to me…

It’s time to set fire to The Headbanging Moose with a woman that’s perhaps the most eccentric, distinct and explosive of all metal chicks who have already embellished our pages through the years. She’s not only a professionally trained actress, dancer, singer, performer and an internationally recognized model in the Gothic and fetish genres, having been featured in several publications and websites, but also an activist and the frontwoman for an American metal act that blends the heaviest and most obscure elements from Gothic, Black and Death Metal. If you have absolutely no idea who that woman is, I bet you’ll be stunned by her talent, beauty and passion for music and arts in general. Having said that, let’s cut to the chase and begin our humble tribute to our last metal lady of 2018, the unstoppable and dauntless Lilith Astaroth (also known as Goddess Lilith), lead singer for Boston, Massachusetts-based metal entity Sorrowseed. In other words, are you ready for total chaos and anarchy with Lilith?

Born on October 31, 1997 in Cambridge, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, Lilith loves music from the bottom of her heart, having started her musical pursuits at the age of five when she learned to play the piano. At the age of fourteen, she began to teach herself how to play the guitar, and in the following year she started her first band, curiously named Satan’s Kids, a Grunge and Rock N’ Roll project inspired by the music from icons like Marilyn Manson, Nirvana and Pantera. And Lilith received a lot of criticism in her early days as a singer, as people kept saying she sounded “like a guy” and that she should start singing “like a normal person”. However, despite that continuous criticism, including being kicked out of a band for “screaming too much”, she refused to change her vocal style and kept working hard for several years, until Sorrowseed came along in 2009 after numerous failed band attempts.

Her style of singing combines low guttural growling and high-pitched shrieking, being often compared to famous extreme vocalists like Dani Filth and Angela Gossow, but also exploring after 2010 a more operatic style in the soprano range, like in her 2011 cover version for the classic Christian Woman, by Type O Negative (I guess all women who succumbed to the dark side of music are admirers of the deceased Peter Steele). A true lover of cybergoth, steampunk and latex fashions, Lilith explores her sexuality while creating music at the same time, offering her fans a full-bodied experience during her live performances and on her videos. Using a combination of inhalation and exhalation screams, she is able to produce a vast array of sounds with her voice, turning each live show into a ferocious display of intensity. Since the beginning of her career, she has released several solo works and has lent her voice and performed live with many different projects throughout New England including Sorrowseed, Mostri and Pandora’s Toybox, always loyal to the Doom, Death, Industrial and Gothic Metal styles. Her biggest inspirations when writing and composing music are quite straightforward and interesting. Lilith was very clear and honest when saying that hatred, or unbridled hatred for humanity and its ignorance, always inspire her to write music, as her day-to-day experiences with other human beings gave her plenty of reason to be angry much of the time. Obviously all that hatred and anger couldn’t be better represented than the flammable fusion of Extreme Metal styles from all her bands and projects.

In regards to her most famous project, American Melodic Doom Metal band Sorrowseed, Lilith formed the band in 2009 in Boston highly influenced by bands like Amorphis, Behemoth, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Satyricon and Therion, singing about controversial topics like the Apocalypse and anything related to the total annihilation of mankind, as well as spreading stories of madness, death, destruction, dark mythology and horror to the masses, all embraced by the band’s obscure musicality.  As a matter of fact, the band started in 2008 by Josh Carrig, of Pandora’s Toybox, evolving to its desired shape and form only in 2010, with the concept behind the band being based on the story of two characters, the Reaping Willow and the Scarab Prophet. Lilith obviously portrays the Reaping Willow, who was once the nature Goddess, Demeter.  Over time, she watched humankind’s pollution, ignorant destruction and environmental abuse overcome the earth. She wept for the ignorance of mankind, becoming enraged with madness and, as a consequence, transforming into the Reaping Willow who, along with the Scarab Prophet, is set upon the destruction of mankind, unleashing apocalyptic terror onto humanity. The band has already released one EP titled Portents, in 2009, and four full-length albums since their inception, those being The Extinction Prophecies (2011), Descent of the Scarab Prophet (2012), Dread Sylvan Summonings (2012), and Nemesis Engine (2013), including incendiary songs like Ocean Scorn (and you can always listen to their albums and obviously purchase them from their own BandCamp page). Working as a way for Lilith to channel her powerful feelings into something creative and non-destructive, as she’s always been very much about vengeance, wrath, and destruction, Sorrowseed kick some serious ass live as you can see in their performance during the Damsels of Darkness Tour playing the song Arcana (of the Lich Queen), with their first ever concert happening at the launch party of 420Mass.com during the 2010 Boston Freedom Rally.

You can also find Lilith lending her beautiful and devilish voice to several distinct bands and projects in the world of heavy music, such as doing vocals for Chilean/American Thrash/Death Metal band Angor from 2014 to 2015, and for American Blackened Death Metal band Coffin Birth starting in 2016. She also worked as a guest vocalist in the song Bloodborne Penance, from the 2016 album The Bowels of Chaos, by Coffin Birth; in the song Halle Ravine, from the 2017 album The Sachem’s Tales, by American Atmospheric Black Metal band Dzö-nga; and in the song The Black Feathered Vixen, from the 2013 EP Unleash the Inferno, by American Death Metal one-man band Eric Pellegrini. There are other projects which are not as “clear” as the ones listed above, such as her involvement as the lead singer of Nemesis Engine, a hybrid of ex-Sorrowseed and ex-Theogonia members which was actually a code name used for the revamped Sorrowseed lineup, as well as her participation with other bands including a Melodic Death Metal band (with use of electric violin) with former bandmate Chris Adamcek and Rachel Zuckerman named Akashic Shadow, in 2012, and an upcoming collaboration with Melodic/Progressive Death Metal act Solemn Vision, from New York.

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As aforementioned, Lilith is not only a regular vocalist and musician, but also an actress focused on the underground and independent scene. It was in 2009 when she began exploring the world of acting, starting with taking courses from Harvard University, doing extra work for major films, and landing minor roles in independent films such as God of Vampires, Nun of That, Heaven and Hell, Legless and Scrooge in the Hood. She has also appeared on NESN as a ring girl for Boston Boxing, has done several interviews in the cosplay documentary Cosplayer Nation, appeared on NBC’s The Dr. Keith Show to talk about safety as a public figure on the internet, and appeared several times in the reality-based web series Quiet Desperation. You’ll also find Lilith in many different music videos as an actress, such as When Steel and Bone Meet, by Goatwhore; Misbegotten Candy, Down in the Mire, and Slaves to the Sleigh, by Pandora’s Toybox; Runnin From Jesus, by Matalon; and Babylon Train, by Desar.

Furthermore, you can take a look at her her IMDb profile to see in detail all B-movies, shorts and TV series she’s been featured, like playing a character named Petunia Pete Sawyer in the 2017 comedy-horror movie Groundhog. In addition to that, Lilith has also attended a good amount of public events through the years, like doing public speaking in different editions of the annual Boston Freedom Rally and the Philadelphia Freedom Festival Benefit, as well as constantly improving her acting skills by taking several training sessions and courses like Introduction to Acting and Advanced Acting from Harvard University, in 2009, Acting Shakespeare and Introduction to Public Speaking also from Harvard University, in 2010, and private classes in C.O.R.E. Acting, in 2013. Do you think that’s already a lot for just one person? Well, you better be prepared, because there’s still a lot more to come.

If you haven’t noticed yet, Lilith is also an internationally recognized professional model, having shot in different exotic locations ranging from Iceland to Montreal, Ireland, Costa Rica, London, Germany and Italy, as well as all over the United States, with some of her favorite runway events being the Montreal Fetish Weekend Fashion Show, and the New Designer’s Fashion Show of New England. A versatile model with 8 years of experience and a wide variety of looks, ranging from classic pinup, swimsuit, Gothic, cosplay, fantasy, fetish, sci-fi, horror, among many others, Lilith has already done event hosting, art modeling, spokesmodeling, living art, bodypainting, being a Ring Girl, Go-Go dancing, and modeling for some of the edgiest latex designers emerging in the fetish fashion scene. However, when asked which career out of music, modeling, dancing and acting she would like to pursue the most, our devilish goddess said music is what she’s really focused on (as we all know, screaming is something that has always been very natural to her), but she also truly wants to pursue professional acting to the fullest. Acting is according to Lilith herself the most challenging of all activities because there’s always room for improvement with anyone, but finding appropriately paying work in modeling and dancing is the most challenging thing she’s been facing on a regular basis. In addition, maintaining a healthy balance of all those activities and responsibilities is not an easy task at all (by the way, she’s also a LMT – Licensed Massage Therapist, an activist for cannabis legalization, animal rights, and preservation of nature, and a reiki master), but as a great and very efficient multi-tasker she is, nothing stops Lilith from always moving forward in her life and career.

One very important topic to Lilith is her utmost support to the legalization of marijuana, and she has a very strong opinion about what should be done in this case. In one of her interviews, she said that people need to focus the war on drugs against the real problems, like pills, which originate with drug companies, and crime which is funded in large part from marijuana. In her own words, Lillith said that “no one is making pills at home – they come from drug companies with bad policies, operating under bad laws with bad inventory and bad control, they have huge lobby groups that let them get away with this and pills have become one of the most major problems in America.” She complemented by saying that she personally would rather not put any chemicals in her body or take the risk of becoming addicted to a chemical, and she has found that she doesn’t need to take those risks, because marijuana helps alleviate her health issues. “We need to take ‘the money’ out of the illegal marijuana equation; by legalizing and regulating we would lower the prices by lowering the value (the price is artificially propped up by its illegal status), and this would take a big bite out of the pocketbook that funds guns and harder drugs, and open the door to affordable, safe and legal medical marijuana.”

When asked in one of her interviews about the current music scene in the United States and what has changed since she started her career in 2009, Lilith said that it actually hasn’t changed much, despite an increase in the number of metal bands in her area, New England, which according to Lilith herself is at the same time a good and a bad thing because some of those bands are very talented, but others are just terrible. She also said there are some bands she’s a good friend of, such as Faces of Bayon, Matalon, Abnormality, AbSynthe, Necrophiliac Meat Circus, Fever Vein and Voices of the Dead, among others, and that she loves to meet and work with bands that play a similar style to hers because those are not only easier to keep in touch, but to also play more shows together. And last but not least, when asked how important her fans are to her, she was pretty straightforward saying that without fans there would be no one to perform for. She does her best to treat her fans well and hook them up with good prices and merch, and communicate with them every day through her website and all her social media. That being said, I guess no one can complain at all that Lilith is a lazy or an arrogant person; quite the contrary, although we all know how unique she is, the world of metal music definitely needs more women with the same attitude, stamina and passion as the multi-talented Lilith Astaroth.

Lilith Astaroth’s Official Facebook page (music)
Lilith Astaroth’s Official Facebook page (acting & modeling)
Lilith Astaroth’s Official YouTube channel
Lilith Astaroth’s Official Twitter
Goddess Lilith’s Official Instagram
Goddess Lilith’s Official Twitter
Sorrowseed’s Official Facebook page
Sorrowseed’s Official YouTube channel
Sorrowseed’s Official Twitter

“Since I was young, I’ve always been the center of attention. My parents were always sticking a camera or video camera in my face, so I got used to it early. It wasn’t until I was 15, however, that I decided I wanted to front a band. Oddly enough, it was Nirvana that inspired me to find this path. I taught myself how to play guitar and formed my first band shortly thereafter.” – Lilith Astaroth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Lusitanian Music

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

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

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

Album Review – Akhenaten / Golden Serpent God (2018)

Steeped in the mythology and mysticism of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia while exploring forgotten paths of history, here comes an infernal duo armed with their brand new opus of crushing Blackened Death Metal.

Forged in 2012 in the fires of Manitou Springs, a resort city in Colorado, in the United States by the “Houseman Brothers” Wyatt Houseman on vocals and Jerred Houseman on all other instruments, here comes a unique and vibrant Black/Death Metal studio project infused with Middle Eastern Folk Influences (even called “Blackened Mesopotamian Folk/Death Metal”) known as Akhenaten with their brand new album Golden Serpent God, steeped in the mythology and mysticism of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia while exploring forgotten paths of history, extracting unknown lore and threads of truth. For instance, Akhenaten, known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV, was a pharaoh of Egypt especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, giving you a very good idea of how distinct and aggressive the music by the duo sounds.

With parallel themes to what’s found in the brother’s Symphonic Black Metal band Helleborus, and featuring an imposing cover artwork by Tony Koehl of Sketch The Soul and a title page artwork by Dennis Lee Hughes of Cythraul Art, Golden Serpent God will appeal to fans of the music by bands such as Al-Namrood, Narjahanam, Melechesh and Kartikeya just like what happened in their previous release Incantations Through the Gates of Irkalla, from 2015, whispering to the most remote regions of primal memory to the sound of their Blackened Death Metal, filled with exotic instruments and rhythmic structures of the ancient Near and Middle East. “The album is a mural of epics from Egypt and Mesopotamia. It tells stories of belief, warfare, men and Gods,” said Jerred about their newborn opus, inviting the listener to an idiosyncratic and extreme music journey together with the duo.

In the excellent opening track, titled Amulets of Smoke and Fire, ominous sounds take us to the Mesopotamian world of Akhenaten, with Jerred generating a dark and embracing atmosphere with his scorching riffs, whimsical keyboards and demonic beats, while Wyatt growls like an Egyptian beast; followed by the also imposing and devastating Dragon of the Primordial Sea, where the guitar and bass lines create a beautiful paradox with the epicness flowing from keyboards, while Wyatt declaims the song’s lyrics with his deep, visceral growls, enhancing the song’s taste and impact even more, creating an instant link with the crushing chant Throne of Shamash, where the drums by Jerred get more and more demolishing as the music progresses in an excellent display of classic Blackened Death Metal, feeling like a battle hymn due to its thunderous vibe.

Then Middle-Eastern and folk elements permeate the air in the captivating instrumental bridge Through the Stargate, setting the stage for Akhenaten to smash our senses in Erishkigal: Kingdom of Death, a full-bodied, metallic feast of darkened sounds and nuances where the Houseman Bothers are absolutely on fire and in total sync, with highlights to the rumbling sounds extracted from guitars and bass. And things get even more thrilling as the strident and piercing sound of keyboards take the lead in the melodic aria titled Pazuzu: Harbinger of Darkness, the perfect union of history, myths and metal music, with the vociferations by Wyatt matching the musicality flawlessly, whereas in Akashic Field: Enter Arcana Catacombs get ready for over seven minutes of tribal beats and Middle-Eastern tones and nuances in another fresh instrumental extravaganza by this talented band, with Jerred blasting hypnotizing beats while the atmosphere remains as cryptic as it can be.

Featuring Brian Palmer (Circaic) on the guitar, God of Creation is the most devastating and modern composition by Akhenaten, with Wyatt growling like a demonic entity while Jerred makes sure the ambience remains as violent as possible in a multi-layered, intricate feast of Black and Death Metal for our avid ears. After such furious explosion of extreme music we have another interesting display of Middle-Eastern music infused with Extreme Metal and even futuristic elements entitled Sweat of the Sun, sounding a bit too weird at times (not to mention it could have been slightly shorter and more metallic), while in Apophis: The Serpent of Rebirth the duo gets back to their more incendiary mode, blasting a potent fusion of Progressive and Blackened Death Metal, being therefore tailored for fans of bands like Behemoth. Furthermore, the intricacy flowing from guitars and bass are the exact background Wyatt needs to thrive with his gnarls, flowing like a firestorm until the music fades into the atmospheric and vibrant outro Golden Serpent God, with all its hypnotizing sounds generating an enfolding and obscure finale for such heavy and captivating album.

In case you want to explore in more detail the vast and eccentric realm of Akhenaten, simply pay them a visit on Facebook for news and other nice-to-know details, and grab your copy of Golden Serpent God (available for a full listen on YouTube, on Spotify and on SoundCloud) from their BandCamp page, from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from the Cimmerian Shade Recordings’ webstore, from iTunes, from Amazon or from Discogs. Akhenaten offer you a one-way ticket into the blackened and mysterious lands of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in Golden Serpent God, and I’m sure such distinguished experience will deeply encourage you to stay there and not come back of your own free will.

Best moments of the album: Dragon of the Primordial Sea, Pazuzu: Harbinger of Darkness and God of Creation.

Worst moments of the album: Sweat of the Sun.

Released in 2018 Satanath Records/Cimmerian Shade Recordings/Murdher Records

Track listing
1. Amulets of Smoke and Fire 3:42
2. Dragon of the Primordial Sea 3:22
3. Throne of Shamash 2:50
4. Through the Stargate 2:35
5. Erishkigal: Kingdom of Death 4:03
6. Pazuzu: Harbinger of Darkness 4:09
7. Akashic Field: Enter Arcana Catacombs 7:05
8. God of Creation (feat. Brian Palmer) 3:22
9. Sweat of the Sun 5:59
10. Apophis: The Serpent of Rebirth 5:49
11. Golden Serpent God 2:44

Band members
Wyatt Houseman – vocals
Jerred Houseman – all instruments

Guest musicians
Brian Palmer – guitars on “God of Creation”
Rose White – female vocals