Album Review – Mastodon / Emperor of Sand (2017)

Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in the brand new excellent album by the trailblazers of Progressive and Sludge Metal.

Anything I say about the music by American Progressive/Sludge Metal trailblazers Mastodon won’t be enough to describe the amount of madness, intricacy and feeling flowing from the instruments from this unique Atlanta-based quartet. Now with the fantastic Emperor of Sand, the seventh studio album in their remarkable career, Troy Sanders (bass), Brent Hinds (guitar), Bill Kelliher (guitar) and Brann Dailor (drums) add an extra layer of complexity to their music by revolving the entire album around the concepts of death and survival, inspired by experiences they had when members of their families and friends were recently diagnosed with cancer.

Featuring a beautiful artwork by Alan Brown (Medusawolf), the concept and story in Emperor of Sand follows a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence. “At the end of the story, the person simultaneously dies and is saved,” said Brann. “It’s about going through cancer, going through chemotherapy and all the things associated with that. I didn’t want to be literal about it. But it’s all in there. You can read between the lines.” Troy also had a few words to share about the whole concept behind Emperor of Sand. “We’re reflecting on mortality,” mentioned Troy. “To that end, the album ties into our entire discography. It’s 17 years in the making, but it’s also a direct reaction to the last two years. We tend to draw inspiration from very real things in our lives.”

Percussion sounds ignite pure heaviness in the form of music, titled Sultan’s Curse, where it’s impressive to see how those four guys can sound so polished and raw at the same time in a perfect fusion of Progressive and Sludge Metal. Furthermore, not only Brann has a superb performance on drums, but their already famous rotation of vocals only makes things even more entertaining. Despite sounding a bit too commercial at first, Show Yourself is a damn good song, being electrified and upbeat with the awesome vocals by Brann leading the musicality, while Brent and Bill deliver classic, sharp riffs and solos. In addition, if you want to see how awesome this tune sounds live, simply watch this excellent video of the band performing it at Jimmy Kimmel Live. Precious Stones is the type of song fans will love to see them playing live, offering another high-speed metallic voyage and showcasing more of their beautiful guitar lines and a rumbling performance by the unstoppable Troy on bass; whereas Steambreather starts with a dark, low-tuned sonority thanks to the guitars and bass sounds, keeping a blackened aura throughout the whole song but with faster passages to maintain the overall result very interesting (not to mention the once again excellent vocals from start to finish).

The next track, named Roots Remain, sounds heavier than all previous songs, with Brann smashing his drums while Troy fires his more aggressive vocals, also providing tons of progressiveness flowing from all instruments in a display of classy and modern Sludge Metal with hints of Groove Metal. In my humble opinion, Word to the Wise is the best of all songs in Emperor of Sand, with the poetic lyrics emanating from the harsh vocals by Troy matching the music flawlessly (“Diamond in the wishing well / Fallen underneath its spell / Save me from the wicked ways / Pulling me with all its weight”). Moreover, I love when they speed up their music without losing their progressive touch, maintaining a beautiful pace while at the same time firing some flammable guitar solos. Ancient Kingdom is another composition with a solid and intricate instrumental supporting the amazing vocal work done by all band members, and what Brann does with his beats is like a lecture in drum playing; followed by Clandestiny, which to my ears sounds like a less commercial and consequently heavier version of “Show Yourself”. It’s one of the songs with the strongest Progressive Metal base of all, and it’s impossible not to feel its energy flowing inside your mind.

With guest musician Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth on vocals, Andromeda, a great tune to break your neck headbanging, also presents a darker side of Mastodon. Brann is absolutely on fire throughout the whole album and it couldn’t be different in this amazing chant, which makes me wonder how powerful it should sound during their live concerts. And featuring another guest vocalist, this time Scott Kelly of Neurosis, we have Scorpion Breath, the second to last track of the album, being very rhythmic with the bass lines by Troy bringing thunder to the musicality, while the guitars by Brent and Bill will cut your skin like a razor-edged blade. Last but not least, if someone asked me to summarize the music by Mastodon in two words, those would definitely be Jaguar God. This is a complex, detailed and very creative creation by the band, presenting amazing guitar riffs and solos, an intricate and groovy drumming, smoother passages, and beyond whimsical lyrics (“Terrestial fire, ascending from underground / Godspeed divine, so we control our mound / Shape shifter, spirits whisper / Guide me through this black sorcery”), not to mention that when the music gets really heavy, it becomes the best Progressive Metal you can think of.

I personally recommend that before (or maybe after) listening to the album in its entirety you go check the band’s outstanding series of videos on YouTube titled The Making of Emperor of Sand, as those will make a lot of difference to your own view of the music found in Emperor of Sand, giving additional details and even new meanings to what you think you know about Mastodon. You can also check what the band is up to at their official Facebook page, and get ready for their always fun visit to your city in a not-so-distant future. Some will say Emperor of Sand is their strongest work to date, and some that the band lost their touch, just like what happens with every renowned band nowadays. All I know is that Emperor of Sand is a bold, cohesive and inspirational metal album, and that it will hit you hard no matter what, proving Mastodon are not among the biggest and most influential names in contemporary heavy music in vain.

Best moments of the album: Sultan’s Curse, Precious Stones, Word to the Wise and Jaguar God.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Reprise Records

Track listing
1. Sultan’s Curse 4:09
2. Show Yourself 3:03
3. Precious Stones 3:46
4. Steambreather 5:03
5. Roots Remain 6:28
6. Word to the Wise 4:00
7. Ancient Kingdom 4:54
8. Clandestiny 4:28
9. Andromeda (feat. Kevin Sharp) 4:05
10. Scorpion Breath (feat. Scott Kelly) 3:19
11. Jaguar God 7:56

Band members
Brent Hinds – lead guitar, lead and backing vocals
Bill Kelliher – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Troy Sanders – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals
Brann Dailor – drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals, bass on “Jaguar God” intro 

Guest musicians
Kevin Sharp – additional vocals on “Andromeda”
Scott Kelly – additional vocals on “Scorpion Breath”
Mike Keneally – keyboards

Album Review – Of the Sun / Before a Human Path EP (2017)

Exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination and finding balance within while embracing chaos, this high-skilled power trio is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about with their brand new album.

Self-describing their wicked music as “Southern Progressive Metal”, American power trio Of the Sun are releasing their new EP titled Before A Human Path, a highly recommended album for fans of Gojira, Pantera, Mastodon and Between The Buried And Me, among other iconic groups, exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination, finding balance within while embracing chaos in each of its five unique compositions. While Of the Sun’s sound is firmly rooted in Groove and Thrash Metal, it also contains elements of Progressive Metal, creating a distinct atmosphere exactly like what you’ll be able to experience in Before a Human Path.

Hailing from Austin, the state capital of Texas, in the United States, the band formed by Patrick Duvall (lead vocals, guitar), David Duvall (bass, vocals) and Johnny Reed (drums) released their debut album AM Radio in August 2009, taking some good years for them to finally come back with new material. Fortunately, the wait is finally over for the delight of admirers of innovative and groovy music, and the final result will definitely bring a positive outcome for the band’s career. “With Before a Human Path, we pulled from personal extremes to convey a more colorful and varied storyline within the span of each song. Ultimately shunning conventional songwriting formula, we really dug in to unearth something we felt isn’t currently being done”, the band commented about the album.

The Tightrope Mile already begins in full force, sounding like a more progressive and groovier version of Pantera where Patrick has an amazing performance on vocals, reminding me of the old days of Phil Anselmo, while David blasts pure metallic lines through his bass guitar. Moreover, all its psychedelic and heavy passages make it sound like three or four songs in one, an always positive attribute in progressive music. In the kick-ass Nebulamorphous we have the perfect example of what the band calls Southern Progressive Metal, bringing the most electrifying elements from Southern Rock and Progressive Metal together while Johnny is responsible for the intricacy found in the music with his sick drumming. At the same time, Patrick takes care of the song’s deranged side with his sick growls, effectively complementing all this sonic feast of craziness and rumbling sounds.

Featuring guest musicians Phil Davidson on violin and viola, and Kullen Fuchs on vibraphone, Cantos offers the listener an exciting doomed sonority, with its clean vocals being exactly what the music demands. Furthermore, this dark and introspective creation by Of The Sun gets even better as time passes by due to the amazing guitar lines by Richard together with the low-tuned bass by David. The intricate and aggressive tune A Soliloquy brings forward Groove Metal with a lot of progressiveness and hatred flowing from its vocals and bass lines, reaching a whole new level of insanity (and don’t forget to pay attention to the excellent drumming by Johnny throughout the entire song); whereas in the sharp Southern Metal chant The Limbless God we face more demented metal music to pierce our ears mercilessly. Their fusion of anger and creativity couldn’t sound more thrilling, with highlights to the great sync once again between Richard and David, not to mention all tempo changes and endless heaviness which end up adding an extra dosage of adrenaline to the final result.

To sum up, despite being only an EP technically speaking, Before a Human Path brings to the listener a full-flavored adventure in experimental heavy music thanks to the refined skills of each one of the three musicians from Of the Sun. If you want to show your support for Patrick, David and Johnny, go check what they’re up to at their Facebook page, listen to their music at ReverbNation, and don’t forget to buy your copy of Before a Human Path at their official BandCamp page. This creative and energetic trio of musicians is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about, and you’ll be more than pleased with what they can do to your ears with their music.

Best moments of the album: Nebulamorphous and A Soliloquy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Tightrope Mile 7:09
2. Nebulamorphous 5:34
3. Cantos 7:22
4. A Soliloquy 7:22
5. The Limbless God 5:31

Band members
Patrick Duvall – lead vocals, guitar
David Duvall – bass, vocals
Johnny Reed – drums

Guest musicians
Phil Davidson – violin and viola on “Cantos”
Kullen Fuchs – vibraphone on “Cantos”

Album Review – Aegri Somnia / Ad Augusta per Angusta (2017)

A compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, where Spanish oral traditional music is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Whenever metal gets blended with any other type of music in the world, in special with more traditional styles and genres, the result is always beyond interesting, transpiring creativity, passion, feeling and entertaining us all in a different way than our usual metal bands. That encounter of the fury and darkness of heavy music with distinct non-metal sounds is exactly what you’ll experience in Ad Augusta per Angusta, the debut full-length album by Madrid-based Black/Avantgarde Metal project Aegri Somnia, where Spanish oral traditional music, unknown even for most of Spanish people, is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Aegri Somnia are Cristina R. Galván (also known as Lady Carrot), from the Castilian folk music world, and multi-instrumentalist Nightmarer, from the Avantgarde Metal scene (As Light Dies, Garth Arum), who decided to form the project in 2012 in an old ghostly house located in a northern Spanish valley, surrounded by loneliness, silence and the smell of wet earth. And it didn’t take long for the duo to give life to Ad Augusta per Angusta from the harmonious union of their skills and backgrounds, offering the listener a compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, a travel through the rural and magical Spain with its lights and shadows, and a gaze into the abyss of the black and tenebrous Spain with the inner cruelty and brutality of human beings. Featuring a stylish artwork designed by Cristina and Nightmarer themselves, Ad Augusta per Angusta will certainly redefine the way you see folk and metal music.

Serene acoustic guitars and the delicate voice by Cristina kick off the folk composition Seran, full of traditional Iberian elements and showcasing a steady, melancholic atmosphere. Furthermore, all additional instruments played by both Cristina and Nightmarer are necessary to the music, never sounding out of place. Aegri Somina offer heavier guitars and a rousing vibe in the excellent and classy chant Señor Platero, presenting a great performance once again by Cristina on vocals while Nightmarer brings the word “metal” to the musicality in a perfect balance between extreme music and Iberian folk; followed by La Culebra, a song that’s at the same time tailored for a dancing performance and for a metal concert. Not only Cristina changes her tone a bit in this song, sounding more aggressive than before, but also the song’s symphonic elements enhance its darkness, cohesiveness and taste.

La Deshonra, the longest of all tracks, transpires melancholy through the beautiful acoustic guitars by Nightmarer and the passionate vocals by Cristina, and despite the music not having any breaks or variations, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. In fact, its constant rhythm is what makes it mesmerizing. In Molinero – Vengo De Moler, the fusion of metallic guitars and the classic sound of unique instruments like spoons, clamps and stomps, among others, creates a fantastic ambience for Cristina to declaim the song’s lyrics, filling all spaces in this exotic and fun composition, whereas in La Niña De La Arena, one of the best tracks of the album, the duo speeds up the pace and delivers sharp guitar lines, both electric and acoustic. This is indeed an intricate chant displaying several different instruments and layers, with nuances of modern folk music to spice it up a bit. And exhibiting a softer side, Cristina and Nightmarer focus on the more gentle sounds of their instruments in Romance De Santa Elena, generating a calm atmosphere where Cristina beautifully tells the story through the song’s poetic lyrics.

Ronda De Mayo brings Iberian folk with hints of modern Hard Rock, Folk and Progressive Metal, feeling like part of the soundtrack for a dark movie, with its percussion and synths working really well, keeping the music flowing smoothly. Then we have Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte, another dancing tune full of clapping and acoustic lines keeping up with the Spanish traditions, with Cristina going back to her sharper vocal lines while Nightmarer does an amazing job with his unstoppable guitar, and Charro Del Labrador, where Cristina continues to showcase her tender vocal lines, with the musicality in this case being denser than usual thanks to the heavier beats and louder folk instruments. I personally think this experimental composition should sound very interesting if they record a full metal version of it. And Veneno, the last composition in Ad Augusta per Angusta, offers the listener atmospheric passages and a high dosage of melancholy, and albeit not being a bad composition, it’s in my opinion slightly below the rest of the album in terms of creativity.

It’s extremely easy to know more about Aegri Somnia and their music. For instance, you can listen to the full album on YouTube, where you can also watch an amazing video by Cristina herself speaking about the traditional percussion instruments used in Ad Augusta per Angusta and other details about the Iberian oral tradition (with subtitles in English available). You can also follow the duo on Facebook, and purchase Ad Augusta per Angusta at their BandCamp page, at the Symbol Of Domination’s BandCamp page, at the Satanath Records’ webstore or at Discogs. And if exploring new music is part of your life, then you’re more than welcome to join Cristina and Nightmarer in their voyage through the darkness and light of the rural Spain.

Best moments of the album: Señor Platero, Molinero – Vengo De Moler and La Niña De La Arena.

Worst moments of the album: Veneno.

Released in 2017 Symbol Of Domination/United By Chaos

Track listing
1. Seran 4:08
2. Señor Platero 4:51
3. La Culebra 3:13
4. La Deshonra 6:06
5. Molinero – Vengo De Moler 5:05
6. La Niña De La Arena 2:40
7. Romance De Santa Elena 4:28
8. Ronda De Mayo 4:17
9. Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte 3:40
10. Charro Del Labrador 5:41
11. Veneno 4:51

Band members
Cristina R. Galvan (Lady Carrot) – female vocal, galician and castilian tambourine, pandero cuadrado, palo de agua, spoons, almirez, shells and claps
Nightmarer – male vocal, electric & acoustic guitar, fretless bass, keyboards/synths, programming, violin, accordion, wind chimes, claps and stomps

Metal Chick of the Month – Elizabeth Schall

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So follow me now, you’re falling behind… Have the will to set free…

It’s time to get really heavy at The Headbanging Moose with a woman that not only kicks some serious ass on guitar, but she manages to channel all her passion for Heavy Metal into her music flawlessly, creating some sick tunes that will definitely put you to bang your head and raise your horns like crazy. Of Chilean descent, here comes the incredible metal shredder Elizabeth Schall, an American singer, songwriter and guitarist mainly known for her work with Winterthrall, Dreaming Dead and The Iron Maidens, among several other bands and projects. If you want to know how badass Elizabeth is, let me tell you that some of her biggest influences in music are Iron Maiden, Slayer and Megadeth. Do I need to say more?

Daughter of Federico and Amanda Renee Schall, Elizabeth had to relocate to Chile after living in California, which despite not being easy for her and her family in the beginning it helped them learn to appreciate what they left behind in the United States, not to mention the enormous benefit for Elizabeth as she became fully bilingual then. In regards to music, our kick-ass guitarist started taking accordion lessons at an early stage of her life, switching to guitar later, saying that if it wasn’t for the accordion lessons maybe she wouldn’t be playing guitar today. Due to her exceptional skills as a guitar player, her commitment to learning the instrument and her passion for Heavy Metal, Elizabeth has become a role model for many young women who want to play guitar and play extreme music.

In regards to her career in metal music, she first came into the scene when she was recruited to join Death Metal band Winterthrall in 2003 as their guitarist and also doing backing vocals, leaving the band two years later. It was in September 2005 that she finally joined The Iron Maidens, right after the departure of guitarist and co-founder Josephine Draven, becoming the female version of Adrian Smith named “Adrianne Smith”. Despite leaving the band one year later, in October 2006, Elizabeth rejoined them in June 2010 in a guest appearance as “Deena Murray”. There’s a full concert of The Iron Maidens with Elizabeth on the guitar on YouTube, recorded on August 25, 2006 at Vinnie’s Bar & Grill in Concord, California, which might not be a high-quality footage but at least you can have a pretty good idea of how awesome she sounds playing all the mighty classics from Iron Maiden.

It was in 2006 when Elizabeth formed the band Manslaughter together with drummer Mike Caffell, recording that same year the EP Through the Eyes of Insanity. Following a brief tour, our raven-haired bombshell and Mike renamed the band to Dreaming Dead, recording the albums Within One in 2009, Midnightmares in 2012, and Funeral Twilight (which will soon be reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose) now in 2017. In all three records she was responsible for vocals and guitar, but in Within One our daredevil musician also recorded bass guitar and wrote all lyrics, proving how talented she is and how destined she was to heavy music. If you want to have a good taste of the havoc Elizabeth and Dreaming Dead are capable of generating, you should take a good listen at potent compositions like Midnightmares (you can check the official video for it at the end of this essay), Overlord and Buried.

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There are several other bands and projects where we can find Elizabeth shredding her axe, most of them related to Death Metal with hints of other extreme (and even not-so-extreme) subgenres of heavy music. Since 2013 she has been part of American Death Metal/Grindcore band Cretin, blasting her vicious riffs and solos in songs such as It from their 2014 album Stranger, and since 2014 she’s also been the guitarist for American Death/Thrash/Groove Metal project Dia de los Muertos.  In addition, you can also enjoy Elizabeth on lead guitar on  the song My Secret Things, from the 2012 album Horny Beast by American Heavy Metal/Deathrock band Lover of Sin; her backing vocals on the Cacophony cover Burn the Ground, from the 2008 album Future Addict, by the Progressive Rock/Metal solo project led by renowned guitarist Marty Friedman; and on piano on the 2012 album Results, by American Death Metal/Grindcore band Murder Construct (a side-project of members from Exhumed and Cattle Decapitation). If playing the guitar, the piano and singing is not enough for you, how about her work as a photographer in the 2013 album The Dead Still Dead Remain (a completely re-recorded version of the 2000 full-length The Dead Shall Dead Remain featuring the return of Leon del Muerte), by American Death Metal band Impaled? That’s how skillful our badass Elizabeth is.

Elizabeth, who by the way used to be married to Charles Elliott, lead singer and guitarist for American Death Metal band Abysmal Dawn, cites Swedish musician Peter Tägtgren (Hipocrisy, Pain) and American guitar hero Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore) among her main influences, as well as renowned acts like Cryptopsy, Metallica, and the aforementioned Megadeth and Slayer. If you want to take a look at how our stunning guitar player deals with her beloved instrument, you can watch this high quality video of Elizabeth setting up and tuning her guitar, where she reviews tools, changing strings, tuning (from B to E standard), action and intonation, or also this other video where she talks about and demos her favorite Fernandes guitar and the Fernandes Sustainer.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this short but humble tribute to the amazing Elizabeth is the list of her favorite guitar riffs published on Decibel Magazine in July 2012, where she commented on the most impactful and meaningful riffs in her life, the ones that helped shape up her style and enhanced her relationship with her instrument. In the article you’ll be able to see exactly which riffs from specific songs she loves the most, blending metal and non-metal acts on her list. Obviously, as this is a Heavy Metal webzine, we need to highlight the presence of unmatched classics like Megadeth’s Tornado of Souls (by the way, she said she’s crazy about all the riffs in this masterpiece), Emperor’s The Tongue Of Fire, Type O Negative’s Love You To Death, and my favorite of all by far, Iron Maiden’s all-time classic Aces High. However, you’ll also find other interesting riffs from non-metal acts on her list, such as Los Prisioneros’ Estrechez de Corazon (80’s Chilean alternative pop) and Soundgarden’s Jesus Christ Pose. Well, there’s of course one of her own riffs on the list, the one from the chorus of the song Overlord by Dreaming Dead, but that’s more than expected when the musician in question is extremely talented and her music kicks some serious ass.

Elizabeth Schall’s Official Facebook page
Elizabeth Schall’s Official Twitter
Elizabeth Schall’s Official YouTube channel
Elizabeth Schall’s Official ReverbNation
Dreaming Dead’s Official Facebook page
Dreaming Dead’s Official Twitter
Dreaming Dead’s Official ReverbNation

“I like to think I live in a world where my gender has nothing to do with what I am capable of doing. You go onto YouTube and see 13-year old girls shredding out on metal songs.” – Elizabeth Schall

Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio Promo Hour Of The Day – From Monday To Friday @ 8pm GMT

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http://midnight-madness.is-a-rockstar.com/Great news for all of you metalheads!

FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8pm GMT, one of our kick-ass partners, Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, broadcasting directly from London, England, will blast the best of underground metal music reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose during the PROMO HOUR OF THE DAY!

So remember, FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8PM GMT tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to get your daily shot of the cream of the underground metal music crop, from Hard Rock to Black Metal, from Folk Metal to Thrash Metal, from Doom Metal to Metalcore, and so on! You’ll have the unique pleasure of listening to the superb music by bands like Charm Designer, Neverworld, Majesty Of Revival, Nervosa, False Coda, Atonismen, Diabolizer, The Silent Rage, Terrifier, Gaerea, and tons of other amazing metal acts from all over the world!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
Twitter
Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Jupiter Hollow / Odyssey EP (2017)

A young Canadian duo ready to bring fans of complex music a spacey, experimental and refreshing experience with their excellent debut EP, bursting with high-quality heaviness and progressiveness.

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ep-cover-odyssey-jupiter-hollowWhen two very young and promising Canadian musicians unite in the name of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll, focusing all their developing talent and crescent passion for heavy music into their compositions, the result is always interesting to say the least. That’s the case with Progressive Rock/Metal duo Jupiter Hollow who, since their inception in the summer of 2015 in the city of Barrie, in the province of Ontario, Canada, are ready to bring fans of complex music a spacey, experimental and refreshing experience, reminding listeners of bands like Tool, Pink Floyd, A Perfect Circle and Rush. And if you enjoy that fusion of heaviness and progressiveness, you definitely should take a shot at their excellent debut EP, entitled Odyssey.

Jupiter Hollow are Grant MacKenzie (21), who plays guitar, bass and synth for the band and started his music career over 8 years ago at the age of 12, sitting in his basement watching the 2009 movie Rock Prophecies, and Kenny Parry (18), who started in music at the young age of 2, setting up pots and pans like a drum set and banging away. Now as Jupiter Hollow the two musicians use technology to their advantage, allowing them to perform with a dominating stage presence while captivated their audiences with their unique sonic journey, consequently catching the attention of the music industry in Toronto. The band then plans on releasing a full-length album titled AHDOMN, giving a short and sweet taste of what they’re capable of delivering in their debut EP, which I’m sure will please your ears avid for high-quality heavy music.

In the first of the five tracks of the EP, named Deep In Space, classic Rock N’ Roll lines are blended with modern Progressive Metal, with Kenny sounding a lot like the iconic Geddy Lee in his prime time (all fans of Rush need to listen to this awesome tune). This song has a beautiful melody with an impactful instrumental, especially the bass lines by Grant and the complex drumming by Kenny. Psychedelic and atmospheric, Ascending is a smooth and passionate ballad that will touch your soul before Hades Heart brings more of the band progressiveness in the form of a classic Rock N’ Roll power ballad. This dynamic Canadian duo knows how to add poetry to their music (“Piece by piece we sit in the sand / On separate beaches / Staring at the same star we fell in love beneath / Travelled once around in each other’s touch / Once alive on an honest trip / My psyche lies and kills your grip / Just give me gas and I’ll light it up”), with a soulful guitar solo by Grant inserted in the music to add more electricity to such inspiring composition.

grant-_-kenny-sandra-beattyOver 50 Years is where they let their Dream Theater vein take the lead, blasting more metallic and thunderous lines through their guitar and bass, again with those eccentric lyrics we always expect in progressive music (“It’s been too long / Since anyone’s tasted sweet sugar on that beach / With everyone facing death / Sinfully stricken poison pet / You say: “These are our people you prick” / These are our fucking people”, I don’t care. / I can’t be associated with you”). The heavier and more intricate riffs by Grant set the stage for Kenny to fire some harsher vocals, turning this into the most exciting composition of the EP in my humble opinion. And the title-track Odyssey, the fifth and final act of this solid album, provides the listener a futuristic voyage through the realms of Progressive Rock and Metal, with the clean vocals by Kenny emanating strong emotions in a James LaBrie-style, while Grant does an amazing job with his minimalist but powerful guitar and bass until the song’s eerie ending.

For every Justin Bieber that’s born in our home and native land Canada, heavy music fights back with a Kenny Parry and a Grant MacKenzie, keeping a necessary balance in our multicultural ecosystem. With that said, if you want to avoid any disruptions in our beautiful Canadian environment, I suggest you go support Jupiter Hollow through their official Facebook page, listen to their fine music and more at their YouTube channel (where you can also stream the full EP), and obviously purchase Odyssey through their official website or BandCamp, on iTunes or on Amazon. If these two young musicians can deliver such excellence in music at a very young stage of their careers, imagine what they will be able to provide with the proper support from fans like you in the coming years?

Best moments of the album: Deep In Space and Over 50 Years.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Deep In Space 5:06
2. Ascending 2:52
3. Hades Heart 4:30
4. Over 50 Years 5:05
5. Odyssey 5:50

Band members
Kenny Parry – vocals, drums, synth/keys
Grant MacKenzie – guitar, bass, synth

Album Review – Undrask / Battle Through Time (2017)

The story of a man lost to eternity, forced to fight and die repeatedly throughout time and alternate realities, told by an amazing Melodic Death Metal act from the United States.

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coverFormed in 2013 in Greensboro, the third-largest city by population in North Carolina, inspired by metal of all flavors and with the goal of creating equal parts tasty and heavy Melodic Death Metal, American band Undrask returns with more of their gripping music after their critically acclaimed self-titled EP released in August 2015, this time offering a concept album that tells the story of a man lost to eternity, forced to fight and die repeatedly throughout time and alternate realities. The album, titled Battle Through Time, is not only their debut full-length release, but also an excellent option for fans of modern Melodic Metal the likes of Amon Amarth, Carcass and early In Flames.

If there’s one thing about Heavy Metal concept albums I truly enjoy is the fact that it doesn’t matter how epic or futuristic the story might be, heavy music always illustrates all characters, their struggles and all ongoing events to perfection, exhaling intensity and passion. Featuring a classy and modern artwork by Finnish artist and musician Jan “Örkki” Yrlund (Darkgrove), Battle Through Time is comprised of 10 distinct tracks that together will guide you through the main character’s eccentric journey, each one playing an important role in the overall storyline, introducing new elements and increasing the electricity flowing through the band’s top-notch music. And when the album is over, I bet you’ll catch yourself waiting for the final credits of this “movie”.

And the story begins with No Graves for the Dead, a fantastic fusion of Power Metal and Melodic Death Metal where guitarists Erik Collier and Darryl DeWitt shape up the musicality with their addictive riffs and create an amazing ambience for lead singer Steve Wynn to blast his furious growls, followed by Conscripted and its chorus that perfectly summarizes the main concept of the album (“Rise again / Conscripted / For conflict without end / Embrace eternal war / Live again / Unbound by death and fate of men / I fall, I rise again”). Guitar sounds from “outer space” are the main element in this tune, with drummer Aaron Schimmel and bassist Daniel McCoy firing their rhythmic beats and metallic lines respectively to provide the song a denser aura. And in Champion of the Dawn, a modern battle hymn led by the potent riffs by Erik and Darryl, we’re treated to tons of progressiveness and heaviness, not to mention the sonic impact of the thunderous bass guitar by Daniel.

Then we have more intricacy in the epic Black Ocean, which continues to tell the excruciating quest of the main character in a melodic and uproarious combination of Progressive, Death and Groove Metal. Furthermore, the way Steve declaims the lyrics with his raspy gnarls is spot-on to accurately depict the whole story being told. Featuring backing effects by Ryujixepic, Embers and Omens provides a calm acoustic bridge to the metallic Longhammer, easily one of the best songs of the album due to its headbanging rhythm, boisterous drumming and beautiful guitar lines, boosted by the endless amount of epicness contained in its lyrics (“Legend speaks of a mighty force / Sealed in its chamber, dormant for ages / Victims it enslaves will feel no remorse / Ripped from its tomb, the power rages / Flowing forth from a molten prison / Finding form in the ancient mold / Grasp the aspect of destruction arisen / Gods grant the name of the weapon I hold”). And Daniel and Aaron keep blasting our ears with their low, powerful beats and punches in Primal Revelation, showcasing a strong Amon Amarth vibe with the complexity found in modern Melodic Metal similar to the creations by Scar Symmetry.

undrask-picDespite not being as gripping as the rest of the album, Faceless Eyes is another good display of Undrask’s high-end Melodic Death Metal, especially the great sync between Steve and Aaron, whereas Final Right, the second to last track in Battle Through Time, keeps up with the electricity of the album by blending the violence of Melodic Death Metal with hints of Progressive Metal, as well as another excellent performance by Daniel with his bass lines. Lastly, the title-track Battle Through Time is the consummate climatic ending to the story, a feast of heavy riffs and rhythmic beats in eight minutes of first-class Melodic Death Metal, with highlights to the potent vocals by Steve and the piercing onslaught by Erik and Darryl with their axes.

This up-and-coming five-piece metal act is waiting for you at their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, and in case you’re brave enough to join them in their battle through time you can grab your copy of the album at their BandCamp page (and soon at all major digital distributors). With a copy of the album on one hand and the powerful Longhammer on the other, you’ll be more than ready to face all challenges and dangers from the alternate realities generated by the music by Undrask.

Best moments of the album: No Graves for the Dead, Longhammer and Battle Through Time.

Worst moments of the album: Faceless Eyes.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. No Graves for the Dead 5:29
2. Conscripted 4:45
3. Champion of the Dawn 5:03
4. Black Ocean 4:53
5. Embers and Omens 1:03
6. Longhammer 3:53
7. Primal Revelation 4:56
8. Faceless Eyes 4:31
9. Final Right 6:12
10. Battle Through Time 8:21

Band members
Steve Wynn – vocals
Erik Collier – lead guitar
Darryl DeWitt – rhythm guitar
Daniel McCoy – bass guitar
Aaron Schimmel – drums

Album Review – +MROME+ / Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell (2016)

If you’re eagerly looking for truly independent music in the world of Heavy Metal, this idiosyncratic Polish project will satisfy your craving with their fresh and unorthodox experimentations.

Rating5

mrome_ncotrohThe last review of the year is the epitome of independent metal, something we at The Headbanging Moose truly love to support, being absolutely raw, anti-mainstream, not interested in promoting band members and not interested in touring at all. Founded in the now far, far away year of 1995 by a group of teenage friends in the city of Andrychów, located in Southern Poland,  Death/Black Metal project +MROME+ was reborn in 2009 after almost a decade of silence, finally releasing as a duo now in 2016 the idiosyncratic album Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell.

+MROME+ produce their music in their own primitive studio in complete isolation from the local scene, with their only principle being that every new recording is a new start for the band, a new stage, keeping things as different and interesting as possible, and they do that by not labeling their music nor sticking to a predetermined formula. If you take a listen at their collection of demos from 1997 to 1999 baptized as The Basement Sophisma, you’ll see how versatile +MROME+ are, ranging from devilish extreme music to unique cover version for non-metal classics such as Faith No More’s “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”, and in Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell the band continues with their heavy experimentations, always pushing their creative boundaries further and further.

When the opening track Colors begins, you’ll be facing a crossover of Death, Sludge and Progressive Metal, with its bass lines rumbling in your face, while Key V transpires aggressiveness through his harsh vocals and P provides the right amount of heaviness and intricacy behind his drums. Then +MROME+ turn up the heat and blast a dark and vile Death Metal composition titled Crush the Moon, sounding amazingly underground and powerful. It has an old school punch thanks to its catchy chorus and melodious, angry guitars, being in my opinion one of the best songs of the whole album. And in Migration Cult we have a great fusion of Death Metal and Rock N’ Roll, with its flammable Thrash Metal riffs complementing Key V’s deranged representation of the song’s wicked lyrics (“Marching far south from Eden / There is still something what push us on / Missing primal fixations / Will we abandon the code / The Holy Fuck”).

How the Gods Kill is an awesome tribute to one of the most eccentric musicians of all time, the one and only Danzig, keeping up with the obscurity of the original version with the low-tuned and menacing sound of bass guitar paving the path for an explosion of evil Heavy Metal. Following that superb cover song, Trust brings forward more of the band’s uproarious Death Metal with Key V and P delivering straightforward heavy music to our ears in a compelling way, whereas Generation Anthem is heavy and distorted music from the pits of Hell. Furthermore, the duo seems to love those menacing mid-tempo songs, firing blazing riffs and fierce beats nonstop. But just when you think the band is going to stick to some sort of formula they fire Piss & Laugh, showcasing a somber rhythm inspired by Dark Metal with the Blackened Doom guitars and the deep gnarls by Key V enhancing its damned atmosphere. At this point of the album, you’ll realize that calling +MROME+ just as Death or Black Metal is an understatement of their musical range and capabilities.

mromeOnce again bursting poetry and madness through the lyrics (“Monstrous iron worms / Feeding on fire / And flash / Choke the ground / March against the dawn / East from nest of crow / Days of hunger / Lions hunt”), Locust Follows Word presents a berserk intro followed by more thunderous bass lines and a grumpy attitude, with all additional elements in the background helping in strengthening the musicality considerably. The second to last blast of underground metal by this interesting project, titled Magister Figurae Morte, will kick you in the face with its pounding drums and energetic riffs in this solid display of ruthless metal from darkness, before The Arsonist closes the album majestically, with Key V impersonating the arsonist himself by setting fire to the musicality with his growls and riffs. In addition, P accelerates his beats to a traditional Black Metal style, generating a high-end feast of hellish music with a climatic ending.

+MROME+ do not have a Facebook page, a Twitter account or any other type of social media. As previously mentioned, it’s all about their music and the concept behind it, which means all things +MROME+ are summarized to their BandCamp page in the form of heavy music, with Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell being their newest sonic experiment, but not their ultimate one at all. Fans of truly underground metal will hear more about +MROME+ in a not-so-distant future for sure, as they’re already recording Roi-de-Rats, their next full-length opus. Well, I’m already eager to see what Key V, P and the band’s original bassist (who has just rejoined the project after all these years) will offer from their arsenal of extreme and primeval music.

Best moments of the album: Crush the Moon, How the Gods Kill and The Arsonist.

Worst moments of the album: Generation Anthem.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Colors 4:03
2. Crush the Moon 4:33
3. Migration Cult 3:31
4. How the Gods Kill (Danzig cover) 5:46
5. Trust 4:09
6. Generation Anthem 3:45
7. Piss & Laugh 4:24
8. Locust Follows Word 3:48
9. Magister Figurae Morte 4:32
10. The Arsonist 6:18

Band members
Key V – vocals, guitars
P – drums

Album Review – False Coda / Secrets and Sins (2016)

A lesson in progressiveness and feeling by a five-piece Greek band that brings forth a classy fusion of different musical styles, highly recommended for fans of top-of-the-line Heavy Metal.

Rating4

album-coverI think I’ve never faced a boring band from Greece to review here at The Headbanging Moose, and Greek Progressive Metal act False Coda is no exception to that. Formed in 2009 in Athens by brothers Andreas Milios (drums) and Vasilis “Bill” Milios (guitars), this five-piece band brings forth a marvelous fusion of genres and subgenres of heavy music, including Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, Power Metal and Doom Metal, among many others, as well as other styles such as classical music, never getting tiresome or repetitive even playing songs that go on for over eight or nine minutes. Quite the opposite, it looks like the longer their compositions are, the more exciting they get.

However, it was only in 2014, after considerable lineup changes, that False Coda were able to release their debut album, entitled Closer to the Edge, which received excellent reviews from magazines and webzines from around the globe. And that positive feedback fueled those Greek metallers with confidence for more, culminating with the release this year of their brand new album Secrets and Sins, a lesson in progressiveness and feeling featuring Stefanos Zafeiropoulos as their new lead singer, a classy artwork by French artist Nihil, world-famous guitarist Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore) with a special solo for one of the album songs, and of course an infinite amount of first-class heavy music.

An exotic and pleasant intro with elements from the East ignite the excellent Throne Of Blood, an upbeat heavy music composition with cutting guitar lines and a high dosage of complexity the likes of Dream Theater, with the keyboards by Lefteris Kapetanios sounding sharp and exciting throughout the whole song (and as you’ll see, throughout the whole album as well). Moral Compass brings forward more intricacy and metallic sounds to us fans of Progressive Metal, where Bill showcases all his abilities with his stringed weapon while the vocals by Stefanos remind me of both Matt Barlow and Stu Block (Iced Earth), adding an extra touch of violence to the overall result; whereas in New Paradigm a gentle intro flows into pure progressiveness, morphing into a song that could easily be played on any rock n’ roll station with highlights to the spot-on performances by Stefanos on vocals and Nick Pogkas with his groovy bass lines.

false-codaThe title-track Secrets and Sins couldn’t be more imposing and symphonic, a feast of tempo changes, beautiful solos and tons of heaviness flowing from all instruments, sounding as if Dream Theater merged with Iced Earth in the most effective way. Needless to say, it’s one of the best songs of the album, highly recommended for some good headbanging. Flickering Lights, despite having an amazing intro and some interesting moments (in special the solid riffs by Bill), is not as captivating as the rest of the album, sounding a bit generic compared to the other songs. And Monolith, perhaps the darkest of all songs, is also one of the most thrilling, with its dense ambience and the theatrical vocals by Stefanos, together with the powerful Doom Metal-ish beats by Andreas and the sensational solo by guest guitarist Jeff Loomis, making listening to it simply mandatory to any fan of modern and organic Heavy Metal.

The multilayered Moment, with its rumbling bass lines and eerie atmosphere, is the longest of all tracks and, thanks to that, it’s also the song where the band had the highest amount of freedom to showcase all their creativity and passion for heavy music, with highlights to the final guitar solo by Bill, while The Truth Lies, a passionate power ballad by these talented Greek metallers, presents another sensational job done by the guitar/keyboard duo comprised of Bill and Lefteris, enhancing the song’s appeal. Furthermore, I simply love the smooth break with the piano notes, bringing a good balance to the heaviness of the rest of the song. And lastly, California is a very innovative way to finish such powerful album, a beautiful ballad with elements from Blues added to the musicality, tailored for listening to it together with your significant other as he or she will surely enjoy the moment a lot.

You can get more details on False Coda through their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, with the sophisticated Secrets and Sins being available at their BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. As aforementioned, several distinct Greek bands from different genres and styles have already been reviewed by The Headbanging Moose, and none of those were even close to being boring. Now we can definitely add False Coda to this select Hellenic team, hoping that their music can travel the seven seas and reach the ears of headbangers avid for high-quality Heavy Metal all over the world for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Secrets and Sins, Monolith and The Truth Lies.

Worst moments of the album: Flickering Lights.

Released in 2016 Freia Music

Track listing
1. Throne Of Blood 6:06
2. Moral Compass 6:11
3. New Paradigm 5:37
4. Secrets and Sins 8:25
5. Flickering Lights 4:09
6. Monolith (feat. Jeff Loomis) 5:29
7. Moment 9:20
8. The Truth Lies 6:03
9. California 3:36

Band members
Stefanos Zafeiropoulos – vocals
Vasilis “Bill” Milios – guitars
Nick Pogkas – bass
Lefteris Kapetanios – keyboards
Andreas Milios – drums

Guest musician
Jeff Loomis – guitar solo on “Monolith”

Album Review – Burial in the Sky / Persistence of Thought (2016)

An album that effectively unites the devastation of Death Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, brought into being by an American band that knows exactly how to create beautiful extreme music in a compelling and atmospheric way.

Rating5

burial-in-the-sky-album-artI guess I sometimes tend to overuse the word “atmospheric” in some of the reviews done here at The Headbanging Moose, but in the case of Persistence of Thought, the first full-length album by American Atmospheric Tech-Death Metal act Burial in the Sky, there’s no better word to describe the technical and whimsical assault of extreme music brought forth by the band, always interspersed between tranquil and at times psychedelic passages. And although you’ll find hints of the musicality by bands such as Nihil and Fallujah spread all over the creations by Burial in the Sky, they’re far from being a copy of either.

Formed by multi-instrumentalists William Okronglis and James Tomedi in the year of 2013 in Mount Carmel, a small city located in the state of Pennsylvania, United States, Burial in the Sky already released two EP’s prior to Persistence of Thought, those being Psychosis (2013) and Transcendence (2014). Joining them on Persistence of Thought is world class drummer Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Abigail Wiliams), whose expert skills perfectly complement each song created by the duo. Add to that recipe the otherworldly album art by American artist Nathan Lee, and there you have an excellent option for lovers of the aggression found in Death Metal with the subtlety and finesse of progressive music.

In the opening track, entitled Entry I, serenity invades our ears and smooth piano notes bring peace to our souls, but suddenly all that calmness turns into an avalanche of Technical Death Metal led by the intricate drumming by Samus, changing completely the course of action in a very solid way. The band blends sheer brutality with melodious lines and a beautiful ambiance, going from total devastation to psychedelic passages (like what happens for instance at around four minutes) and back to their Dream Theater-sish extreme music, captivating the listener from start to finish. The second part of what can be called their “Entry Trilogy”, Entry II, follows a similar pattern, with William providing deep growls and interesting riffs while James fires his soulful guitar solos. Furthermore, the last part of the song is an outstanding sonic onslaught led by the unstoppable Samus on drums, including even hints of Black Metal in his beats and, therefore, increasing the album’s musical range. And closing the trilogy we have Entry III, a dark tune transpiring melancholy, where delicacy is found in the form of subtle guitar lines amidst all desperate screams and hellish drums blasted by the band, with highlights to the pleasant guitar duo at the end of the song.

burial-in-the-skyThe second part of the album begins with Anchors, where Burial in the Sky hypnotize us with a whimsical rhythm and a touch of finesse before charging our minds with their brutal musicality, with James delivering more of his amazing solos whereas Samus continues to display a high level of complexity on drums. This is a song highly recommended for banging your head with your eyes closed to properly enjoy the sound from every single instrument, until it reaches its climatic ending. Galaxy of Ghosts is the first song of the album to start in full force, already exhibiting the violence and anger found in the music by Burial in the Sky from the very first second. Not only this is a very technical composition presenting interesting tempo changes and guitar lines, but also pay attention to the awesome synchronicity between guitars and drums, and to how the band gradually increases the song’s electricity before ending it in a pensive way. And Dimensions Divide, the last blast of technical and furious Death Metal in Persistence of Thought, maintains the overall quality of the album really high, with its blazing guitars and top-notch drumming guiding the musicality, which once again fades into atmospheric sounds and pure melancholy.

In a nutshell, Persistence of Thought might not be an album for the masses due to the intricacy and heaviness of the music present in each one of its tracks, but that doesn’t mean all types of fans of heavy music can’t have a good time listening to it. Simply sit down, relax and absorb the music by Burial in the Sky, or you can also stand up and slam into the pit if that’s your cup of tea. You can purchase Persistence of Thought at their BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon and other different locations, and by doing that you will show your support to this up-and-coming band that knows exactly how to unite the realms of devastation and complexity in a compelling and atmospheric way.

Best moments of the album: Anchors and Galaxy of Ghosts.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Entry I 6:02
2. Entry II 5:47
3. Entry III 4:40
4. Anchors 7:29
5. Galaxy of Ghosts 5:52
6. Dimensions Divide 4:42

Band members
William Okronglis – vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keys, percussion
James Tomedi – lead guitar, bass, keys, mandolin, slide guitar, percussion
Samus Paulicelli – drums (session)

Guest musician
Danny Greene – additional synths