Album Review – Grenouer / Ambition 999 (2019)

Over 55 minutes of classy and modern rock music showcasing a different side of this talented Russian band, but still keeping their amazing core Alternative Rock and Metal intact.

Offering over 55 minutes of modern and melodic Alternative Metal with several distinct rock elements, Ambition 999, the ninth album in the career of Saint Petersburg, Russia-based act Grenouer, turned out to be a long-term project due to all the re-recording needed until the band reached its desired sound. That resulted into one of the biggest gaps between albums in their career, with nothing more, nothing less than four years separating Ambition 999 from their previous album, Unwanted Today, released in 2015. However, all that wait was definitely worth it as their new album is indeed a fresh addition to their discography, with each one of its 15 songs offering a different approach when compared to the band’s two previous efforts in terms of riff intensity and rapid-fire solos, balancing between new and clichés, double density and marked vocal temperament.

Engineered and recorded by Al Bolo at RDS& Moscow Gates Apartment Studios, Anssi Kippo at Astia-Studio, and Luigi Del Missier at BlackMirror Studios, produced, mixed and mastered by Giuseppe “Dualized” Bassi from dysFUNCTION Productions, and featuring a futuristic artwork by Brazilian artist Jobert Mello (Sledgehammer Graphix) and Italian artist Zimon (New Breed Graphic Studio), Ambition 999 feels like a heavier version of bands such as Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, presenting a more than inspired and electrified band comprised of Andrey Ind on lead vocals, Dmitry Rubanovsky and Alexander Motor on the guitars, Al Bolo on bass and Danny D on drums, and bringing to our avid ears everything we need to have a good time on the road, at a pub, at home, or anywhere else where good rock music is properly appreciated.

Electric waves permeate the air before the band begins blasting their modernized blend of Alternative Rock and Metal in Burnt to the Ground, with highlights to the slashing guitar riffs and solos by Dmitry and Alexander; followed by Nevermind Tomorrow, a song perfect for banging our heads to their riffs and beats while Andrey gives life to its party-like lyrics (“Fast and tight / High heel party night / Tomorrow never knows and never dies / Drinks on me / Any chicks for free? / We’re born to make some noise, so sing with me / Or you’d better shout”), and One Day, another thrilling tune in the same vein as bands like Godsmack, Shinedown and Three Days Grace, sounding very melodic and showcasing a passionate performance by Andrey on vocals while Danny D dictates the rhythm with his spot-on beats. Then in Infinite Grace the band adds a good amount of heaviness to their music, getting closer to the musicality by bands like Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson but still keeping their core Alternative Rock intact, also presenting some sick guitar solos for our total delectation, whereas in Medicine Treats No Lies the quintet continues their feast of modern-day rock and metal music, with Al together with Danny D bringing thunder to the music with their respective instruments.

If Cure for the Lonely is even more futuristic and atmospheric, displaying a strong focus on Andrey’s vocals and feeling at times like a hybrid of modern rock music with the electronic and alternative sounds by old school bands like Depeche Mode, Uncommon Faith is a good song for hitting the highway, presenting great sync between the band’s stringed trio and Danny D’s beats, all infused with Hard Rock elements. On the other hand, Back on Track is slightly below the rest of the album in terms of electricity, albeit it does bring forward a considerable amount of progressiveness as well as Andrey’s smooth but potent vocals; while Universe of My Heaven sounds very modern and progressive, also bringing some symphonic elements in the background to give it an extra taste. Moreover, Al’s bass sounds as groovy as it can be, while Danny D pounds his drums just the way we like it in good modern Rock N’ Roll. After that, it’s time for Grenouer to take their musicality to even more eccentric lands with the weird, atmospheric and fun Crimson Lines, with highlights to its classy, poetic lyrics (“Read between the crimson lines / Sacred destination / Go behind the scenes of life / Steady irritation / Read between the crimson lines / Go behind the sonic nightmares / Black and white visions in the sky”).

It’s interesting how Grenouer manage to keep their essence while exploring new sounds, which is the case in the almost electronic-dancing tune Chase the Sun, and although the final result is quite entertaining the guitars by both Dmitry and Alexander needed an extra kick for the whole song to work even better. Then melancholic, acoustic guitars ignite the introspective Ingenious Care, showcasing smooth vocal lines, complex and serene drums, and featuring guests Chayka Chursina on vocals and Zimon on bass, sounding dark from start to finish and, therefore, sending the desired message by the band. Dangerous Girls takes the band back to a heavier, more pounding sonority, with their guitar duo being on fire as well as Al and his rumbling bass, or in other words, this is a well-balanced hybrid of Progressive and Alternative Metal for admirers of the genre. The second to last blast of Grenouer’s rockin’ sounds comes in the form of Paranormal Star, sounding as whimsical and piercing as its name, placing it as another serious candidate to be part of their live setlists, whereas the last tune from Ambition 999 is a superb acoustic ballad entitled Alone in the Dark, which not only presents beautiful guitars and vocals, but its official video is amazingly obscure and captivating. Put differently, it might not be the usual electrified Grenouer we’re used to, but this somber, pensive side of the band is just as enfolding as their more regular sonority.

What are you waiting for to put your hands on 15 extremely well-crafted and energizing rock songs made in Russia? Simply go to the band’s official BandCamp page to grab your copy of the album, as well as to the Sleaszy Rider Records’ BandCamp or webstore, to iTunes or to Amazon, and keep an eye on their Facebook page, VKontakte and YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their crisp rock music. As an already established and successful band in the world of heavy music, we can rest assured Grenouer are far from calling it quits, hoping that all of their future releases are just as good as the music found in Ambition 999 and that they proudly keep carrying the flag of Rock N’ Roll wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Nevermind Tomorrow, Medicine Treats No Lies, Crimson Lines and Alone in the Dark.

Worst moments of the album: Back on Track and Chase the Sun.

Released in 2019 Sleaszy Rider Records

Track listing
1. Burnt to the Ground 3:30
2. Nevermind Tomorrow 3:32
3. One Day 4:15
4. Infinite Grace 4:07
5. Medicine Treats No Lies 3:25
6. Cure for the Lonely 2:37
7. Uncommon Faith 5:13
8. Back on Track 3:41
9. Universe of My Heaven 3:49
10. Crimson Lines 4:16
11. Chase the Sun 3:17
12. Ingenious Care 3:24
13. Dangerous Girls 4:08
14. Paranormal Star 3:10
15. Alone in the Dark 3:20

Band members
Andrey Ind – lead vocals
Dmitry Rubanovsky – guitars
Alexander Motor – guitars
Al Bolo – bass
Danny D – drums

Guest musicians
Chayka Chursina – female vocals on “Ingenious Care”
Zimon – bass on “Ingenious Care”

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Interview – Anthony Kaoteon

In this exclusive interview, Lebanese vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Kaoteon talks about his brand new project Death Tribe, his already established band Kaoteon, and his always delicate connection to the Middle-East.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

The Headbanging Moose: Let’s begin with a very simple question, and that is who’s Anthony Kaoteon? When did you begin your life in metal music, and who influenced you the most to follow that path?

Anthony Kaoteon: I am a Lebanese kid who grew up at the end of Civil War, witnessed the Syrian occupation, the religious hatred of my countrymen, the bombs in the streets of Beirut, the Israeli mass airplane attacks on the country to mention a few big events that scarred me as a child and made me realize that the world is blind and needs someone loud enough to hear the truth.

THM: What’s your goal with Death Tribe, and what’s the main difference from your already established band Kaoteon? Can you tell us more about the story behind Death Tribe and the reason for the band’s name?

AK: Death Tribe is more of a personal project where I am experimenting with Metal genres. It is not a side project but it has no restrictions or limitations as it has no genres, not one vocalist or one sound. The only restriction is me as the only fixed member in the band but working with new musicians opens my mind and allows me to explore areas I would have never explored otherwise. If I was a polyamorous guy, then KAOTEON would be my lover and Death Tribe my date.

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

THM: Regarding your brand new album Beyond Pain and Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, how was the recording process of the album? Did everything go as planned, and do you think the final result sends the message you had in mind to the listener?

AK: The recording process was very lengthy, expensive and time consuming especially that it was recorded in several regions and studios around the world. The biggest impact on sound were the mixing engineer – namely Karim Sinno from The Audioloft in Lebanon. He brought everything together and kept it crystal clear.

THM: Beyond Pain and Pleasure features an array of excellent guest vocalists such as Walid Wolflust, Serge the Slave, Adnan Mryhij, Youmni Abou el Zahab and JM Elias. Apart from Walid Wolflust, who sings for your other band Kaoteon, are they all your personal friends? How did you invite each one of them to sing in the album?

AK: They are all personal and close friends of mine who have their great bands and I wanted to promote their sound through mine while promoting my sound through theirs. We come from a very talented region that is undiscovered and deserves much more support.

THM: My favorite songs from Beyond Pain and Pleasure are the title-track Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate. I personally think they’re very powerful and rebellious, which I believe is what you want the listener to feel while listening to the album. Having said that, what song from the album better represents yourself and your never-ending fight for freedom?

AK: That is the beauty of an album like BP&P, every person will have a different favorite. I enjoy Hollow, BP&P and Implode Explode a lot but this varies every now and then. The overall sound of the album is rebellious so I surely wanted that but what I really wanted is to deliver an eclectic album that brings all genres together under one record.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

THM: I’m pretty sure the metal scene in the Netherlands, your current home, is a lot more developed than in your homeland Lebanon. Are there any bands you would recommend from the Dutch underground scene?

AK: I am still not very active in the scene due to a lot of shit happening in my personal life that I will not discuss but the bands here are very talented. I see a huge stoner metal movement. I cannot chose one band top of mind as it wouldn’t be just but there is definitely a lot of bands to check that won’t disappoint.

THM: Now talking about your connection to Lebanon and the Middle-East, how harmful do you think the combination of religion and politics is in that region not only to metal and non-metal music, but to all forms of art? And do you see an end to that in the future?

AK: It is detrimental and I am afraid I don’t see an end to it anytime soon. It is a deeply rooted plague that is still being nourished by the west to control its masses and use it when and where needed.

THM: Do you think one day you’ll be able to return to Lebanon and start making metal music again there? And what do your family and friends that are still in Lebanon think of the type of music you play?

AK: Most people don’t know what is metal unless they like it and play it. We live parallel lives so that we don’t get judged. I don’t see myself returning to Lebanon to play music any time soon.

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

THM: What’s next for Anthony Kaoteon? Can we expect a new Kaoteon or Death Tribe album in a not-so-distant future, and do you have any plans for touring with any of your bands around Europe or in North America? I would love to see either Kaoteon or Death Tribe performing in Canada.

AK: For touring, KAOTEON is the horse of choice and we are releasing the 3rd album soon hopefully as we finished the recording with Adrian (Erlandsson) from At the Gates on drums and Linus (Klausenitzer) from Obscura on bass again. The mixing and mastering were finalized by Tue Madsen in Denmark at Antfarm Studios and the artwork is getting ready with Vincent Fouquet in France.

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, Anthony! It’s always a pleasure interviewing relentless musicians like you who keep the underground metal scene alive and kicking. Please feel free to send a final message to our readers, and anything else you would like to say to all fans of heavy music out there.

AK: Thanks a million for the opportunity to speak and promote the music Gustavo. People like you keep the dream alive and I hope you will keep it up. As for the readers and music lovers, if you want bands to keep making music – support them!

Links
Kaoteon Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp
Death Tribe Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

Inspired by the suffering of warfare, spirit breaking oppression and the refusal to submit to either, behold the debut album by Anthony Kaoteon’s newborn spawn of Extreme Metal.

“Come confess your mortal sins,
Sadistic violence, the trademark of kings”

Inspired by the suffering of warfare, spirit breaking oppression and the refusal to submit to either, Extreme Metal project Death Tribe is the sound of vociferous rebellion and defiant resistance spearheaded by Anthony Kaoteon, the mastermind behind Death/Black Metal band Kaoteon, who released in 2018 the excellent Damnatio Memoriae. And if you’re already familiar with Kaoteon’s insurgent music, you’ll certainly have a blast with Death Tribe’s first installment, entitled Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, Anthony’s personal monument to independence and his eternal tribute to every man, woman and child that refuses to bend the knee and submit.

Born into the chaos and conflict of Beirut, Lebanon, but currently residing in Utrecht, Netherlands, Anthony refuses to accept the strictures of others in his day-to-day life as well as in music, always determined to shape his own destiny. Conceived over a few years and drawing on sounds from different periods of metal’s development, Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment features an array of guest vocalists such as Serge the Slave (Aramaic) and Youmni Abou el Zahab (Ascendant), who together with Anthony and his henchmen Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Alkaloid, Kaoteon) on bass and Mattias Landes (Dark Fortress, ReVamp) on drums generate a massive wall of violent and austere sounds recommended for fans of renowned acts like Revocation, Gojira and Skeletonwitch.  “I dedicate this album to those who keep chasing their dreams, to every person that was born with a tag on his forehead and defied the world to make his own statement heard – I will die soon but the music stays to remind those who listen of a man who didn’t obey,” said Anthony about his newborn spawn, inviting us all to join him in his musical rebellion.

Featuring Anthony himself on lead vocals, the opening track Hollow offers the listener an explosion of Groove Metal from the very first second, with Anthony barking like a beast while Mattias smashes his drums manically, or in other words, a straightforward, in-your-face tune tailored for admirers of rabid and pulverizing music. Following such demented start, Walid Wolflust (Kaoteon) lends his visceral roars to Beyond Pain and Pleasure, giving life (or I should say death) to its acid lyrics (“Are you delighted from others pain? / Are you distressed by another’s pleasure? / Come confess your mortal sins, / Sadistic violence, the trademark of kings”) in a brutal fusion of Black and Death Metal where Linus and Mattias are in an infernal sync; whereas in Implode Explode Anthony not only vociferates manically, but his scorching riffs add an extra touch of dementia to the overall musicality, inspiring us to slam into the circle pit to Death Tribe’s frantic fusion of Groove, Death and Thrash Metal.

It’s time for Death Tribe to go full Death Metal in Neurotic Breakdown, sounding gory, virulent and putrid from start to finish, with guest vocalist Serge the Slave (Aramaic) doing an amazing job by almost vomiting the song’s lyrics. Needless to say, the violence and hatred flowing from Anthony’s riffs and Mattias’ darkened beats is simply outstanding. Adnan Mryhij (Svengali) is the designated guest growler in Psychopathetic, a hybrid of Groove and Progressive Metal infused with the violence of Thrash Metal, sounding like a more demented version of Mastodon and also presenting a beyond infuriated Linus with his intricate bass punches; followed by Death Blues, where Youmni Abou el Zahab (Ascendant) brings a Hard Rock and Power Metal twist to the band’s crushing sonority with his high-pitched screams, with the overall result sounding as if classic 80’s metal has met the insanity and rage of modern-day extreme music.

Walid is back on vocals in the demolishing Narcissist Bastard Nation, where Linus and Mattias make the earth tremble with their respective instruments, sounding closer to Kaoteon’s sound from their 2018 album, also carrying obscure lyrics that are nothing but a sad reflection of our reality (“Money and Power is what they seek / Blinded by Hatred and their love of creed, / Sinners as saints covered by shame, / Killing each other’s and no justice to blame, / Narcissist Nation – Clueless bastard marionettes”). Then JM Elias (Damage Rite, Svengali) brings sheer hate and violence to the onrush of demented sounds titled Nuclear Hate, with Anthony slashing his strings in a very melodic but fierce manner while Linus keeps extracting thunderous tones from his bass nonstop. And Anthony and Serge bark and scream together in the closing tune named Face the Facts, a groovy extravaganza spiced up by elements from Southern Metal delivering lots of shredding and deranged growls for your avid ears, ending the album in an absolutely berserk way.

If you want to know more about this newborn beast known as Death Tribe, their music, their goals, principles and tour dates, simply go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to grab your copy of the flammable Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment from the project’s own BandCamp page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from CD Baby. Because, in the end, it doesn’t really matter if Anthony incarnates his Kaoteon or his Death Tribe form, as he will keep being the voice of the voiceless until his final breath. Having said that, it’s time for all of us to join Anthony’s newly founded tribe of extreme music, always fighting for freedom of speech, and never kneeling to anyone.

Best moments of the album: Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate.

Worst moments of the album: Psychopathetic.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Hollow 4:10
2. Beyond Pain and Pleasure 3:41
3. Implode Explode 4:25
4. Neurotic Breakdown 5:25
5. Psychopathetic 3:09
6. Death Blues 3:41
7. Narcissist Bastard Nation 4:14
8. Nuclear Hate 3:52
9. Face the Facts 3:35

Band members
Anthony Kaoteon – guitars, lead vocals on “Hollow”, “Implode Explode” and “Face the Facts”
Linus Klausenitzer – bass
Mattias Landes – drums

Guest musicians
Walid Wolflust – vocals on “Beyond Pain and Pleasure” and “Narcissist Bastard Nation”
Serge the Slave – vocals on “Neurotic Breakdown” and “Face the Facts”
Adnan Mryhij – vocals on “Psychopathetic”
Youmni Abou el Zahab – vocals on “Death Blues”
JM Elias – vocals on “Nuclear Hate”

Metal Chick of the Month – Mariia “Masha” Dementieva

Raise some hell, our true Lady Evil!

Are you ready to scream and roar together with our metal chick of the month of April in the name of darkness and evil, here on The Headbanging Moose webzine? If you’re a fan of the blasphemous, obscure and absolutely awesome music played by renowned acts like Behemoth, Septicflesh and Kaoteon, among many others, you’ll fall in love with the talent and beauty of Mariia “Masha” Dementieva, also known as simply Masha (or even  Mary Crematorium in a not-so-distant past, and if you prefer, Мария Дементьева in her mother tongue), the unrelenting frontwoman for Ukrainian Blackened Death Metal horde Nordwitch. That, of course, if you come from another galaxy or dimension and haven’t listened to Nordwitch’s sulfurous music yet, because if you’re from this planet I’m sure you’re already addicted to Masha’s demonic growling.

Although there’s isn’t much available online about Masha’s personal life (apart from many awesome photos from her career as a model, photo model and alternative tattoo model), you can still enjoy a good amount of information from her ass-kicking Kyiv-based band Nordwitch, formed in 2015. Singing about some very interesting topics such as satanism, occultism and ancient Scandinavian mythology, Nordwitch bring forth a flammable fusion of Black and Death Metal in their music, offering tons of melody amidst a brutal sonic devastation. The name Nordwitch, according to Masha herself, is the band’s representation of the mysticism and mystery of Scandinavian witches with a hint of female sexuality, which by the way matches perfectly with her diabolical vocal style. As a matter of fact, before becoming Nordwitch, Masha and the rest of the band, guitarists Max and Leo and bassist Max Senchilo, were all part of a Symphonic/Progressive Metal band named Crystalnight, where Masha was not their vocalist, but their keyboardist. If you’re curious to know how Masha and her bandmates used to sound before morphing into the dark beast known as Nordwitch, you can take a listen at some of their songs from their ReverbNation profile, such as Dark Angel and the original version of Nordwitch’s crushing tune Lady Evil.

In addition, not only Masha spearheads her horde of Blackened Death Metal in Nordwitch, but she was also one of the producers of their 2016 opus Mørk Profeti together with the other members of the band. You can listen to their pulverizing album in full on YouTube, and raise your horns to amazing songs like the aforementioned Lady Evil and Messiah of Death, or search for some live footage online like this one where the band is playing Lady Evil live at MHM – Metal Head’s Mission Festival in 2018. Furthermore, don’t forget to buy your copy of the album at the Satanath Records BandCamp, to subscribe to the band’s YouTube channel (where you can find for example a fun and raw version of the song No Regret live in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2016), follow them on VKontakte, and listen to more of their music through their ReverbNation and SoundCloud profiles. Who doesn’t enjoy listening to some brutal metal music like this remastered live version of Messiah of Death, right?

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In regards to her idols and main influences in music and in life in general, Masha said in one of her interviews that not only herself but all of her bandmates are inspired by mysticism, occultism and several other eccentric topics when writing their music, always trying to make their sound as unique as possible. As the main founder and central figure of Nordwitch, a project that was originated inside her pagan mind, Masha is obviously influenced by all classic Black Metal bands, such as Mayhem, Watain and Bathory, which she’s been a fan since she was a teenager, and you can see how much she’s passionate about such controversial but fantastic subgenre of heavy music by visiting her official Instagram account and searching for her personal videos playing several Black Metal classics on the piano and keyboard. For instance, take a very good listen at her delicate but at the same time piercing piano versions for Burzum’s Dunkelheit and Han Som Reiste, Dark Funeral’s Stigmata, Dissection’s Where Dead Angels Lie and Thorns Of Crimson Death, and Shining’s Tillsammans Är Vi Allt, among others, as well as non-Black Metal hymns like Type O Negative’s Love You To Death. In addition, she mentioned in an interview that she’s also influenced by classical music and Scandinavian folk music, which kind of explains her passion for the piano, and that Runhild Gammelsæter, a Norwegian musician notable for being the vocalist for the American bands Thorr’s Hammer and Khlyst, is her favorite female metal singer of all time, complementing by saying that she cannot choose only one male singer as her favorite, though, as there are too many.

When asked about her hobbies outside of music, Masha listed a few very interesting and healthy activities, like working out and practicing sports, modeling and photography, also mentioning her interest in satanism, occultism and the mythology of ancient Scandinavia, which as aforementioned are the main topics covered in the music by Nordwitch. In addition, Masha said in one of her interviews she’s an apolitical person, as in her opinion true Black Metal has always been and will continue to be away from politics or anything related to it, being focused on religion and other more obscure topics. She also said that she had always dreamed about being in an Extreme Metal band like Nordwitch, but she wasn’t sure if that was going to actually happen one day, also saying she understands being a woman in a Black and Death Metal band from the underground scene is not easy at all, but that she won’t give up and keep on rockin’, always counting on the support form her family, friends and fans, aiming as high as possible with Nordwitch in the years to come. And we, true metalheads, will be ready to hail darkness and raise our horns together with the unstoppable Masha and her henchmen, no doubt about that.

Masha’s Official Instagram
NordWitch’s Official Facebook page
NordWitch’s Official VKontakte
NordWitch’s Official YouTube channel

Album Review – The Wandering Ascetic / Crimson (2019)

Drawing influences from the Hellenic Black Metal scene, here comes a Singaporean squad armed with their brand new album of dissonant and hypnotic sounds.

Formed in 2011 in Singapore by Kathir, vocalist and bassist for Rudra, an iconic Death and Black Metal act from the local scene, The Wandering Ascetic are making a name for themselves in the underground of heavy music by blasting a more exemplary black and thrash sonority without the Indian classical instruments seen in the music by Rudra, but still retaining their trademark spiritual fervor. Accompanied by guitarist Vinod (also from Rudra), bassist Jayakumar and drummer Kannan K, Kathir and his The Wandering Ascetic draw their influences from the Hellenic Black Metal scene (as well as obviously from Rudra), generating dissonant, hypnotic sound s infused with crushing riffs and grooves, elevating their music and art to a whole different level.

After the release of their debut EP titled Manifest Destiny, in 2013, it’s time for The Wandering Ascetic to smash our senses once again with their first full-length opus, the excellent Crimson, featuring a life-transforming artwork by Mark Riddick (Fetid Zombie) and layout by Turkka Rantanen (Demilich, Demigod). Comprised of 10 unrelenting songs ranging from pure old school Black Metal to modern-day Southern Rock and Groove Metal, Crimson is a solid and very entertaining statement by The Wandering Ascetic in a scene that seems stagnant at times, showing how powerful Singaporean metal can be and, as a consequence, opening several doors in the international market for the band.

Vinod begins his slashing attack accompanied by Jayakumar’s thunderous bass in Eva Braun, with Kathir roaring demonically for our total delight in a Black and Death Metal attack spiced up by hints of Progressive Metal, flowing darkly until its eerie end; then the tribal beats by Kannan K ignite another obscure composition named I Sing the Body Electric, showcasing an obscure rhythm inspired by old school Black and Doom Metal tailored for fans of the genre where the guitar lines by Vinod sound as flammable as they can be. Bringing elements form the music by Gojira, Mastodon and Tool we have the beautifully titled The Exorcism of Mrs. Doe, a very intricate and sulfurous tune where Jayakumar and Kannan K generate a dense and disturbing atmosphere with their weapons, followed by The Gods Bleed!, a song perfect for breaking your neck headbanging spearheaded by Vinod’s devilish riffs, while Kathir continues to vociferate like a demonic entity, not to mention how metallic and impactful Jayakumar’s bass punches sound and feel.

Beast of Burden presents more melody blended with sheer darkness in the form of modern-day Death and Black Metal, with Vinod being on absolute fire with his riffs and solos while the gnarls by Kathir only get more and more infernal, and The Wandering Ascetic keep hammering our heads with their crushing sonority in The Will to Live, where all four band members make sure we don’t stop banging our heads to their vicious music, with highlights to Kathir’s enraged growls and Vinod’s ass-kicking guitar solo. After such high level of devastation, it’s time to dive deep into the crypts of Hades with those Singaporean metallers in To Hell, Back and to Hell Again, a classic, straightforward metal extravaganza with elements from the dirty Rock N’ Roll played by bands like Motörhead and Chrome Division, which obviously means it kicks some serious ass.

Here for the Good Things keeps the album at a very good level of malignancy and hatred despite sounding a bit generic (or I should say less inspired than the other songs), with Vinod slashing his guitar in a very precise and aggressive manner; and the cutting sound of his guitar is once again the main ingredient in the visceral Assassins, displaying some hypnotizing instrumental parts, in special Vinod’s guitar solo, while Kannan K doesn’t let the energy go down by smashing his drums nonstop. Finally we have Orang Laut, an ominous and grim blast of extreme music highly inspired by classic Doom Metal, with Vinod and Jayakumar extracting the most Stygian sounds from their strings and with the music ending as dark as anyone can imagine.

It’s not always that we have the pleasure of facing high-end metal music from such distinct country, completely out of the North American and European markets, and we metalheads should not only thank The Wandering Ascetic for that by following them on Facebook, but mainly by purchasing their new album Crimson from their own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity webstore, or from other retailers like Target. Crimson might not be considered a true revolution in music, but the four guys from The Wandering Ascetic definitely put on a lot of energy, creativity and passion in the writing, composing and recording of the album to ensure they were not just playing “more of the same”. Quite the contrary, Crimson does sound very unique and compelling, elevating the name of Singapore in the world of heavy music and paving a very interesting future for the quartet.

Best moments of the album: I Sing the Body Electric, The Gods Bleed! and To Hell, Back and to Hell Again.

Worst moments of the album: Here for the Good Things.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Asia

Track listing
1. Eva Braun 5:18
2. I Sing the Body Electric 4:46
3. The Exorcism of Mrs. Doe 4:28
4. The Gods Bleed! 4:42
5. Beast of Burden 4:01
6. The Will to Live 3:15
7. To Hell, Back and to Hell Again 3:10
8. Here for the Good Things 4:10
9. Assassins 5:04
10. Orang Laut 3:12

Band members
Kathir – vocals
Vinod – lead & rhythm guitars
Jayakumar – bass
Kannan K – drums

Album Review – DeeVer / You Need This (2019)

If you also think Rock N’ Roll is not dead and you enjoy all modern shapes and forms of the genre, you definitely need this album made in the UK.

Hailing from Darlington, a large market town in County Durham, in North East England, Deever are a modern Hard Rock band with Heavy Metal influences who are making a name for themselves in their homeland, delivering an onslaught of aggressive riffs and captivating hooks with a distinct British edge highly recommended for fans of Foo Fighters, Muse, Shinedown and several other bands that play a heavier version of our good old Rock N’ Roll. Now in 2019 it’s time for vocalist and guitarist Wil ‘Billy’ Taylor (from Inglorious) together with his henchmen Stevie Stoker on the guitar, Phil Appleton on bass and Dan ‘Higgy’ Higgins on drums to show us what they got with their debut album, titled You Need This, all in the name of rock and metal music.

“I love the classics when it comes to rock music, and I’ll always appreciate my time with Inglorious. All of the guys are extremely talented musicians and we shared some things most people don’t get the opportunity to do. Things change though, and I knew I wanted to do something different that suited me, something more contemporary based musically. Now I’m in a band back home with some of my best mates, hammering out the hard stuff and having a great time doing so. It’s reminded me of all the reasons why I wanted to do music in the first place! We all love what we are doing and are very excited for where DeeVer is heading,” commented Billy about his new band and what to expect when you hit play and let the music found in You Need This invade your senses.

Rev up your engines to the sound of the dirty riffs by Billy and Stevie, who lead a Stoner Metal and Hard Rock onrush of sounds titled Fire At Will, a song perfect for sharing a beer with your friends at a rock n’ roll pub while Higgy pounds his drums like a beast. Then Phil shakes the foundations of the earth with his groovy bass, igniting another modern and vibrant rockin’ party entitled All Come Running, with its guitars and bass walking hand in hand, therefore generating a fun atmosphere for our total delight; and it’s Phil who once again kicks things off in the also thrilling Alright, a well-balanced and dense mix of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll infused with Southern Rock, Grunge and even Progressive Metal nuances, or in other words, a born-to-be-a-radio-hit beautifully crafted by the quartet.

Back Down presents hints of Glam and Hair Metal but without sounding cheesy at all; quite the contrary, it’s a vibrant feast of razor-edged riffs and rhythmic beats perfect for dancing the night away, with Billy kicking some ass with his spot-on vocals, whereas in Waves the band speeds things up a bit, even bringing elements from Punk Rock to their sound, with Billy, Stevie and Phil being on fire with their stringed weapons while Higgy keeps the energy level truly high through his precise beats. And the party goes on with Parachute, where a headbanging start gradually morphs into a more melodic musicality, alternating between heavier and more serene passages (which is also reflected in Billy’s vocals), getting too radio-friendly at times but still very enjoyable; and back to a more aggressive, rockin’ attitude, the band offers our avid ears the fast and punk-ish Only Enemy, where Billy’s vocals get an amazing support from the backing vocals by the rest of the band, while the song’s slashing riffs and thunderous bass punches will pierce you head, reaching deep inside your mind.

Drinking from the fountain of Alternative Rock and Metal, Phil and Higgy build a rumbling background for Billy and Stevie to attack with their stringed weapons in We Are, setting the tone for the next tune, simply titled Jim, a fast-paced, straightforward Rock N’ Roll composition tailored for fans of bands like foo Fighters and Breaking Benjamin where the sound of guitars nicely complements the precise vocals by Billy. Put differently, it could easily be part of the soundtrack of any teen or rock n’ roll movie in my humble opinion. Lastly, I Am The Cavalry, the closing song of the album, brings more of the band’s modern-day Hard Rock, being led by Higgy’s potent beats while the rest of the band continues to extract sheer electricity and thunder from their strings.

In a nutshell, if you’re a fan of both old school and contemporary rock music, as the title itself already says, “you need this” album in your collection, and in order to grab your copy of such electrifying display of modern-day heavy music simply go to the band’s Big Cartel, to iTunes or to Amazon, and show your support to DeeVer by following them on Facebook and by listening to their music on Spotify. Billy and the boys did an amazing job in You Need This, proving one more time that as long as there are people out there who love, live and breathe rock and meta; like the guys from DeeVer, Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: All Come Running, Back Down and Only Enemy.

Worst moments of the album: Parachute.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Fire At Will 3:47
2. All Come Running 3:45
3. Alright 3:44
4. Back Down 3:44
5. Waves 3:24
6. Parachute 3:44
7. Only Enemy 3:30
8. We Are 3:26
9. Jim 3:33
10. I Am The Cavalry 3:50

Bonus track
11. Only Enemy (Radio Edit) 3:27

Band members
Wil ‘Billy’ Taylor – vocals, guitar
Stevie Stoker – guitar, vocals
Phil Appleton – bass, vocals
Dan ‘Higgy’ Higgins – drums

Album Review – Orchid / Miasma (2019)

Immerse yourself in the debut full-length opus by four Indian metallers who are not afraid to experiment with the new and the unknown, always ready to push their own boundaries in heavy music.

Formed in late 2011 in Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru), the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, Avantgarde/Progressive Metal entity Orchid is a four-piece band comprised of Kaushal on vocals, Vinay on the guitar, Rahil on bass and Mayur on drums that plays a dense and very distinct blend of Heavy Metal with several other genres and styles such as Progressive Rock, Hardcore and Psychedelic Rock leanings (as well as Mathcore), pushing the boundaries of heavy music in the subcontinental underground and remaining one of the most original bands to emerge from the region.

In 2016, Orchid released their much-awaited self-titled debut EP to critical acclaim with Rolling Stone India calling it “one of the best cult classics of 2016” and “one of the most intriguing metal releases of the year”, inspiring the guys to keep moving forward and keep spreading their distinguished music to all four corners of the earth with their debut full-length opus Miasma, an album tailored for fans of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Gorguts and Frank Zappa, among others. Unlike their previous EP, which touched upon themes of techno-surrealism, Miasma is more straightforward with sociopolitical themes, with the artwork, done by the band’s own drummer through Copycat, containing elements from every song on the album.

An enraged scream by Kaushal kicks off the low-tuned, sluggish and heavy-as-hell opening track Obsolescence, with Vinay delivering lancinating riffs while Mayur brings tons of intricacy and dementia to the musicality with his beats, remaining crazy, vibrant and unique from start to finish, whereas in Solipsist we’re treated to two and a half minutes of top-notch Progressive Metal where Kaushal growls and roars manically while Vinay and Rahil give a lesson in progressiveness and heaviness with their stringed weapons. Then we have Master Supreme, a short and sweet headbanging tune led by the crushing drums by Mayur, bringing to our avid ears the most insane elements from Progressive and Groove Metal. “The song is about the pervasive influence and the growing epidemic of gurus/godmen and their cults in Indian society as well as abroad. Religion and spirituality is the biggest scam in the world; and because we live in India, we have a front-row seat to the circus,” commented the band about this austere and captivating song.

After the shortest song of the album, it’s time for the longest one, titled Dead End, offering seven minutes of insanity, rage and eccentricity. In other words, a full-bodied sonic extravaganza full of breaks and variations, not to mention the beautiful Jazz-inspired passage featuring guest Aadarsh Subramaniam and his old school keyboard solo, building an instant bridge to the also pulverizing Identoid, where Rahil extracts truly thunderous roars from his bass while Mayur and Kaushal “duel” to see who’s the most aggressive and demented one, maintaining the album at a high level of ferocity and intricacy. Following such fun tune we have Sugar Pill, showcasing the most progressive of all starts but quickly morphing into a sonic onrush of crisp guitar riffs, Hardcore-inspired drums and raspy growls, fading into a very alternative and sluggish outro, before Zero-Sum Game comes crushing like a thunderbolt, already beginning in full force and bringing a violent Kaushal on vocals, while Vinay keeps firing his classic and slashing guitar lines in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Metal with Avantgarde Metal and Mathcore nuances. Lastly the band offers us all Disassembly Line, not as vibrant and crushing as all previous songs but still a good sample of all the madness the quartet can blast through their music, with highlights to the once again amazing job done by Mayur on drums.

In a nutshell, the guys form Orchid were able to condense all their skills, influences and rage in a very intricate and solid way throughout Miasma, placing their brand new album as a fresh option for fans of heavy music who are always in pursuit of bands that think outside the box and that are not afraid to experiment with the most distinct music styles and genres. Having said that, what are you waiting for to show your support to those Bangalore-based metallers? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and purchase Miasma directly from their BandCamp page as well as from Instamojo. I bet you’ve never thought metal music made in India could sound so insane and eccentric like this, right?

Best moments of the album: Obsolescence, Dead End and Zero-Sum Game.

Worst moments of the album: Disassembly Line.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Obsolescence 5:54
2. Solipsist 2:34
3. Master Supreme 1:10
4. Dead End (feat. Aadarsh Subramaniam) 6:59
5. Identoid 2:47
6. Sugar Pill 4:22
7. Zero-Sum Game 4:32
8. Disassembly Line 3:48

Band members
Kaushal – vocals
Vinay – guitars
Rahil – bass
Mayur – drums, percussion

Guest musician
Aadarsh Subramaniam – keyboard solo on “Dead End”

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 – Depths Above / Ex Nihilo (2018)

Crafting Black and Doom Metal “out of nothing”, this Brno-based band is here to introduce us all to their gloomy vision of underground metal with their debut album.

Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing”, often appearing in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning “creation out of nothing”, chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but also occurring in other fields. It’s with that concept in mind that Depths Above, a Czech Black/Doom Metal band formed in 2015 in the city of Brno by current and former members of the bands Bhagavat (Italy), Desert Witch (Slovakia) and Inferno (Czech Republic), are releasing their debut installment, the 32-minute 4-track album Ex Nihilo, introducing us all to their gloomy vision of underground metal in which genres like Black, Death and Doom Metal mix in various dosages and moods. The wicked album artwork, created by the band’s own vocalist and guitarist Vama Marga, is a very good indication of what to expect from Vama together with guitarist Dreamancer, bassist Ivan Teleranko Dvorsky and drummer Sarapis, but it’s when you hit play that you’ll actually be able to feel all the madness and fury flowing from their distinguished music.

Ominous and cavernous sounds ignite the Black and Doom Metal aria Here and Everywhere, morphing into a gargantuan feast of extreme sounds led by Sarapis’ frantic drums and Vama’s and Dreamancer’s choleric riffs, before Vama begins growling like a demonic entity. And the music remains menacing and austere until its Stygian finale, being flawlessly followed by the flammable The Descent, where Ivan and Sarapis make the ground rumble with their thunderous instruments, being perfect for breaking your neck headbanging. Furthermore, the music gets more atmospheric and eccentric as time goes by, also showcasing a beautiful and impactful work done by the band’s devilish guitar duo.

Almost tribal, but always hypnotizing and obscure, A Prayer presents Vama, Dreamancer and Ivan complementing Sarapis’ nocturnal beats flawlessly with their piercing and dense strings in an instrumental extravaganza of Blackened Doom and classic Doom Metal, infused with elements from Progressive Metal the likes of Tool and Mastodon; whereas the title-track Ex Nihilo closes the album as demented and vibrant as the other songs in the form of a massive wall of darkened sounds spearheaded by Vama and his enraged roars. Moreover, it’s by far the most Black Metal of all songs, spiced up by the utter melancholy and anguish of Doom Metal, without a single space being left empty, invading your ears mercilessly and therefore closing the album on a high, cryptic and malevolent note.

You can get in touch with the talented Vama and his henchmen through their Facebook page, and grab your copy of Ex Nihilo exclusively from their BandCamp page. As aforementioned, Ex nihilo means “creation out of nothing”, and Depths Above explored that concept to perfection when creating the music found in their new album, showing the world the band is here to stay, proudly carrying the flag of Black and Doom Metal as high as the sun, but of course with their hearts and minds being as blackened as extreme music demands.

Best moments of the album: The Descent and Ex Nihilo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Here and Everywhere 7:30
2. The Descent 7:04
3. A Prayer (Instrumental) 7:31
4. Ex Nihilo 9:04

Band members
Vama Marga – vocals, guitars
Dreamancer – guitars
Ivan Teleranko Dvorsky – bass
Sarapis – drums