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”

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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

Metal Chick of the Month – Brittney Slayes

There’s no hiding from her, she sees everything!

In order to properly celebrate nothing more, nothing less than FIVE years of The Headbanging Moose, there’s nothing better than paying a humble tribute to a true Warrior of the North as our metal chick of this month of October, a woman that perfectly represents all the passion, strength and perseverance from the people that make our beloved Canada one of the best places to live in the world. Born in 1985 in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities not only in the province of British Columbia but in the entire country, here comes the dauntless vocalist Brittney Slayes, whose real name is Brittney Hayes, frontwoman and founding member of Canadian Heavy Metal band Unleash The Archers, always ready to show you what metal music from the Great White North is all about.

The talented Brittney, who discovered her voice when she was five years old and began singing in her local community choir at the age of eight, traveled with several choirs during her school years, taking part in many musical theater productions and working with some of the best vocal coaches in Western Canada. In university, she attended the UVic School Of Music, but choosing instead to attain her undergraduate degree in History. Furthermore, during her time at the University of Victoria, she traveled the world as a member of the Juno Award-winning ensemble the Uvic Chamber Singers. As a UVic alumna and the lead singer of Victoria-born Unleash the Archers, Brittney gave a keynote talk on July 10, 2018 for UVic’s upcoming conference Boundaries and Ties: The Place of Metal Music in Communities, with her talk, entitled “View from the ‘Apex’: A Metal Musician’s Views on Metal and Community”, drawing on her firsthand experience with local, national, and international metal communities. And do you want to know what our metal warrior thinks about us, metalheads? “People are so open-minded. They’re not going to cast judgement and never give you a chance. From what I’ve seen, metalheads are very kind and caring and open-hearted. I just think that the metal community is uplifting, really,” said our wise vocalist.

Apart from her time singing with different choirs, our Canadian warrior had never been involved in any other bands or music projects before founding Unleash The Archers back in 2007 with her boyfriend and drummer Scott Buchanan, and according to Brittney herself starting the band was the best thing she could have ever done (and we all agree with that, of course), allowing her to use her background in classical music and her four octave range to provide a more dynamic approach to the band’s incendiary fusion of traditional Heavy Metal with Power and Melodic Metal. In late 2008, the band recorded a self-titled four-song demo, which featured two songs (Black Goat of the Woods and Destroyer) they would end up re-recording for their first studio album. In one of her interviews, Brittney explained a little more about the origins of the band, saying it all began when Scott, former guitarist Brayden Dyczkowski (who left the band in 2014) and herself were in university, when Scott and Brayden were playing in a Death Metal band together, and as the drummer’s girlfriend Brittney simply loved to go to their shows and rock out. When the band broke up, she called Brayden and asked him if he wanted to start a band with herself as the vocalist and Scott on drums, and from that day on Unleash The Archers became a reality, leading the band to grow and become a reference in Canadian metal music, winning the Best Metal Band and Best Vocalist awards during the 2015 Vancouver Whammy Awards, as well as being voted number 6 in Exclaim Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards for Best Metal Albums of 2009.

Apart from the aforementioned self-titled debut demo, Unleash The Archers have already released four full-length albums and one EP, those being their 2009 debut album Behold the Devastation (when she was still known as as B. Hayes), the 2011 album Demons of the AstroWaste, the 2012 EP Defy the Skies, the 2015 album Time Stands Still, and last year’s highly acclaimed opus Apex. Currently comprised of our Canadian Valkyrie of metal Brittney on vocals, Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley on the guitars and harsh growls, and Scott Buchanan on drums, as well as Nick Miller taking care of the bass duties during their live performances, Unleash The Archers have a great selection of official videos, lyric videos and unofficial live footage for us to enjoy for hours on YouTube. For instance, you can join Unleash The Archers in their quest for metal with the songs Tonight We Ride, Ten Thousand Against One, Apex, General Of The Dark Army, Time Stands Still, Cleanse The Bloodlines, Awakening, The Matriarch and Dawn Of Ages. And if live concerts and performances are your cup of tea, you can enjoy Brittney and the guys kicking ass with the songs Dreamcrusher and Time Stands Still live in Montreal in 2015; General Of The Dark Army live at the Pont Rouge in Monthey, Switzerland  in 2016; an acoustic version of The Outlander recorded live at CHSR in New Brunswick with Matt Nightingale during the 2011 “Tour Through The AstroWaste”; and their full set during their 2015 appearance at ProgPower USA in 2015. When asked about her favorite Unleash The Archers songs, those she believes a newcomer to their metal world should definitely take a listen at, Brittney said she has always loved Battle In The Shadow (Of The Mountain), from their second album Demons of the AstroWaste, saying she has a strong emotional connection to that song, also including on the list Four In Hand, from their debut album Behold the Devastation, as it’s about sin becoming personified as a cloaked figure riding around in a chariot pulled by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Interesting, isn’t it?

Brittney has also been featured in several other bands and projects as a guest musician, each one of them being very peculiar and showcasing all the talent and range of our metal warrior. For instance, she provided additional vocals to the song Leather Lord, featured on the 2013 EP Live at Mushroom: Vol. I, by Canadian Power/Heavy Metal band 3 Inches of Blood; guest vocals on the song Queen of the Galaxy, from the 2014 EP Queen of the Galaxy (and also featured on the 2018 album The Extraterrestrial Compendium), by American Power/Thrash Metal band Dire Peril (and you can also check a cool live version of it in 2016 at the Blue Lamp HERE); vocals on the song Lunar Sunrise, from the 2014 album The Age of Ether, by American Power/Progressive Metal band Disforia; vocals for the full 2018 album Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster, by American Power Metal band Helion Prime, like in the song Spectrum; vocals for the excellent song Burn It Down (With Fire), from the 2018 album Shadows from the Past, by American Heavy Metal band Lords of the Trident; and last but not least, she was also a guest on the song Siren’s Song, from the 2016 album Lawful Evil, by The Dread Crew of Oddwood (an acoustic pirate band from San Diego, California).

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Regarding her career and life on the road, Brittney said that living life through music is every musician’s dream, living and breathing music every second of every day while on tour, and she wants to keep playing with Unleash The Archers everywhere, every corner of the globe, every continent and every type of venue, from Japan to Scotland, from Brazil to Antarctica (if they can find metalheads there, of course). When asked about the main difference between festivals and regular shows, she said that in the end they’re not that different, only that there are a lot more bands hanging out backstage waiting for their turn and the atmosphere seems quite a bit more laid back. Having already played with Unleash The Archers all over the world, from North America to China and Japan, Brittney has been collecting a lot of good memories and moments from each and every concert, such as their performance at Hell & Heaven Fest in Mexico City in 2014, where they played a side stage but were able to see the concerts by some of their favorite bands like Angra and KISS. Furthermore, all that passion for heavy music and her family had a very positive impact on her performance on stage. For instance, her brother used to play in a punk band and her father worked as a musician for a long time in the 60’s and 70’s. She used to play with his music equipment when she was a little kid, and there are many pictures of Brittney rocking out with an old SM57 in her hand standing on a table or any other stage-like apparatus. Also, as aforementioned, she was always involved in musical theater, drama, choir or any other sort of performing art, making her feel very comfortable when facing the crowd, it doesn’t matter if at a small venue or at a big renowned festival.

As it happens with any up-and-coming artist in metal music, Brittney has been asked several times through the years about who her biggest idols and influences are in music and in life in general, and her answers couldn’t be more classic, more inspiring and, of course, more metal. She said in one of her interviews that as a vocalist she has always been highly influenced by the one and only Bruce Dickinson, the metal god Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon), and Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland), among many others, with bands such as Iron Maiden, As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, Helloween and Septicflesh playing an important role in the development of her taste for music and her singing style. Furthermore, Brittney mentioned that the unparalleled Countdown To Extinction, released by Megadeth in 1992, was the first metal record she’s ever heard in her life, and that was basically the moment that would define her musical preferences for the rest of her life, but she also complemented her thought by saying Best Of The Beast, Iron Maiden’s first “best of” album, released in 1996, was the album that inspired her to use her vocal talents as a singer in a metal band. In addition, when questioned which bands she would choose if she could create her own festival, Brittney simply listed Iron Maiden, Lost Horizon, Iced Earth, Sabaton and Dragonland, all beyond formidable acts, also saying that she would love to tour with Iced Earth, one of her favorite bands of all time, as their music speaks to her on a whole other level.

And last but not least, When Brittney was asked how it feels to be in a Power Metal band from a country like Canada where the Power Metal scene is not as developed as in other places like Scandinavia and Japan, she admitted it’s a bit tough for bands that play metal the likes of Unleash The Archers due to the music culture in Canada being a lot more inclined to Death Metal and other more extreme styles, with Canadian metalheads growing up with bands like Kataklysm and Voivod,  even saying a Power Metal band can feel very “lonely” in the country. However, she also mentioned that even in that not-so-inspiring scenario there are still lots of traditional Power Metal acts all over the country, proving that as long as Power Metal bands keep playing music from their hearts and stay united and strong, the genre has all it takes to grow in popularity among Canadian fans. And there’s no one better than the warrior princess Brittney to lead that metal army and “unleash the archers” upon all of us.

Brittney Slayes’ Official Facebook page
Brittney Slayes’ Official Instagram
Brittney Slayes’ Official Twitter
Unleash The Archers’ Official Facebook page
Unleash The Archers’ Official Instagram
Unleash The Archers’ Official Twitter

“There’s always going to be those faces in the crowd that you have known since the beginning, and that you know will always be there for you; they were fans, and they’ve become friends. I think that there’s very much this foundation of fans that keep you standing. That will never change. The only thing that happens is that it just grows.” – Brittney Slayes

Album Review – Derdian / DNA (2018)

Get ready for over one hour of top-of-the-line Symphonic Power Metal, courtesy of one of the most prominent and skillful bands from the Italian scene.

Hailing from the always fun and vibrant Italian city of Milan, a global capital of fashion and design, here comes one of the most important and most consistent metal acts from the European scene, Symphonic Power Metal squad Derdian, back with another vibrant and well-balanced album titled DNA, the seventh full-length release in their beyond prolific and interesting career. In an era where most renowned bands tend to release only a handful of songs per album, Derdian go against the tide by offering fans of their fusion of symphonic elements and Heavy Metal nothing more, nothing less than over one hour of first-class music split into 13 original songs, proving once again how much they love what they do.

Comprised of Ivan Giannini on vocals, Enrico Pistolese and Dario Radaelli on the guitars, Marco Banfi on bass, Marco Garau on keyboards and Salvatore Giordano on drums, which is the same extremely talented and focused lineup from their previous releases such as their 2014 album Human Reset and their 2016 release Revolution Era, Derdian keep blasting their usual sonic extravaganza full of symphonic layers, epic passages and endless electricity in DNA, all embraced by a crystal clear overall production that enhances the impact of their music even more, turning the experience of listening to DNA a musical orgasm for admirers of the genre.

Abduction, a symphonic-cinematic intro that sounds and feels very serene, sets the stage for Derdian to kick some serious ass with the title-track DNA, a fast and very melodic Power Metal feast inspired by the golden days of Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius, with Ivan showcasing a superb performance on vocals while Marco Garau and Salvatore have a healthy “duel” of delicacy versus stamina with their instruments. After such powerful start the band offers a top-notch Melodic Metal tune for the masses titled False Flag Operation, with its conspiracy theories-inspired lyrics (“It flies along the blue skies / No one knows what’s gonna happen / New York city will have / The right punishment to be / A nest of worms without a faith / Greedy hawks vultures and jackals / Soon the west will got a / Nice surprise to share with me!”) and sheer epicness flowing from the guitars by Enrico and Dario, followed by Never Born, where a smooth start evolves to a feast of harmonious and delicate sounds, but still bringing the traditional electricity of Melodic Power Metal. In addition, this is a great song to sing along with Ivan and the guys, with Enrico, Dario and Marco Banfi giving a lesson in intricacy, melody and feeling with their stringed weapons.

The next track in DNA, called Hail to the Masters, presents a fun fusion of Symphonic Power Metal with Epic and Folk Metal, considerably different from their traditional sonority, with Ivan singing like a true minstrel and with Marco Garau dictating the rhythm with his whimsical keys; while in Red and White, a perfect example of what Melodic Metal is all about, the band gets back to their old school musicality, which means fast and melodic riffs, nonstop drums and another great vocal exhibit by Ivan, flowing smoothly form start to finish. Then we’re treated to a prancing mid-tempo composition entitled Elohim, led by the rhythmic beats by Salvatore and feeling almost a hundred percent Folk Metal at times, before morphing into a Jazz-infused feast of bass punches, keyboard solos and an upbeat vibe. It’s indeed a fantastic and unique side of Derdian, but if that is not entertaining enough for you, we have another powerful tune named Nothing Will Remain for your avid ears, blending elements from classic and symphonic music with modern Progressive Metal, with highlights to the spot-on guitar solos by both Enrico and Dario.

While Fire from the Dust brings what’s perhaps their most aggressive lyrics (“Like a snake crawls out from the rocks / We go out from …this fucking hole / Let the hate becomes a fire / Fire from the dust! / Take the weapons, annihilate them / They are not machines! / Like a snake crawls out from the rocks  / Fire from the dust!”), musically speaking it’s a Symphonic Metal extravaganza tailored for diehard fans of the genre, with the solos by the band’s guitar duo and especially by Marco Garau adding even more electricity to the overall result. Then in Destiny Never Awaits a gentle piano intro evolves into a decent power ballad by this Italian six-piece squad, presenting pleasant guitar lines and potent vocals, but unfortunately never reaching the same electrifying vibe of the rest of the album; whereas in Frame of the End the band delivers a heavier version of their Symphonic Power Metal (it can even be considered a more symphonic and metallic version of the music by Dream Theater in my opinion) spearheaded by Ivan and his passionate and flammable vocal lines, with Stefano also having a precise and groovy performance on drums, not to mention all of the song’s nice breaks and variations. Marco Garau once again kicks things off in a vibrant feast of Melodic Metal titled Part of This World, where not only Enrico and Dario are in total sync with their riffs, but you should also pay attention to how they meticulously add several elements from classical music to their Power Metal. And lastly, as a “bonus” the band offers us a Spanish version for “Nothing Will Remain”, translated to Ya Nada Cambiara, bringing an extra dosage of epicness and an fresh kick to their Symphonic Power Metal.

If you’re not familiar yet with the symphonic and electrifying world of Derdian, you can get more details about the band, their tour dates and their music on Facebook and on YouTube, and purchase a copy of DNA directly from their webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. In a nutshell, DNA is more than just another ass-kicking, thrilling album by this Italian squad that lives and breathes Melodic and Symphonic Power Metal, but a beyond recommended option for anyone who admires some good old Heavy Metal with a precise amount of symphonic elements and an epic aura. Some bands are comprised of talented musicians while others work their asses off to provide good music to the listener, but in the case of Derdian we can say they combine the best of both worlds, with DNA being the perfect depiction of the beautiful thing that happens when you put undisputed talent together with endless amounts of hard work.

Best moments of the album: DNA, Never Born, Elohim and Frame of the End.

Worst moments of the album: Destiny Never Awaits.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Abduction 1:12
2. DNA 5:27
3. False Flag Operation 5:00
4. Never Born 5:43
5. Hail to the Masters 4:27
6. Red and White 5:04
7. Elohim 5:26
8. Nothing Will Remain 5:31
9. Fire from the Dust 6:21
10. Destiny Never Awaits 5:41
11. Frame of the End 5:00
12. Part of This World 6:05
13. Ya Nada Cambiara 5:31

King Records Edition bonus track
14. Never Born (Japanese version) 5:41

Band members
Ivan Giannini – vocals
Enrico Pistolese – guitars
Dario Radaelli – guitars
Marco Banfi – bass
Marco Garau – keyboards
Salvatore Giordano – drums

Album Review – Jollymon / Void Walker (2018)

A lesson in groove, electricity and punch by an American Stoner Metal power trio reborn from the ashes in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, more specifically from Vancouver, a city on the north bank of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, Stoner Metal outfit Jollymon has just released their fifth full-length album titled Void Walker, their first in eighteen years and a lesson in groove, electricity and punch. Comprised of frontman and songwriter Carey Rich on vocals and bass, John Colgate on guitar and vocals, and Mark Blackburn on drums, Jollymon were originally formed in Eugene, Oregon, releasing their debut full-length album, Sailing, in 1995, followed by a stream of high-quality albums until the band exploded in 2000 with no plans to return, until the power trio began to talk, jam and work on a batch of songs that would become their newborn child. “Whereas the previous four records were more grungy rock songs, the material on Void Walker is more on the metal side. But, we managed to keep the space-rock element, and even turned it up,” comments Carey on the band’s shift of direction with Void Walker.

Another thing Carey notices about Void Walker compared to the band’s previous releases is that the album is clearer and better produced. “We’ve come full circle with our recording approach. The first and second albums had great studio gear with Grammy-nominated producer Drew Canulette running the show. However, the third was a lesser studio done on more of a budget. And, the fourth album, our self-titled one, was a home studio recording. Sure, it sounds good, but you can definitely hear the quality difference between it and Void Walker – or even our first two records, for that matter.” He also explained that the album is entitled Void Walker because it is what Jollymon’s name should be. “Void Walker is a kind of symbol of what our sound is. It’s hard to describe, because it’s really left up to the imagination, which has been more of what we are: less wordy, forced lyrics, but simple imaginative shorelines with an epic soundtrack to back whatever is said.”

Old school ass-kicking Rock N’ Roll permeates the atmosphere in the psychedelic and catchy opening track Tsunami, led by the deep vocals by Carey while John mesmerizes us all with his wicked riffs and solos, followed by Monkeyhawk, where an eccentric intro turns into a very progressive tune, with John’s guitar lines being flawlessly complemented by Mark’s groovy beats, not to mention the song’s wicked lyrics, something you can only find in Sludge Metal (“Monkeyhawks not black or white, makin love giving life to fire, Monkeyhawk baby sings a song, its gonna make me cry, its gonna make me cry…”). And inspired by the potent and unique music by Mastodon, the trio fires a dancing-headbanging-beer-drinking extravaganza titled A Good Day, with Corey showcasing an awesome vocal performance while Mark’s precise drumming keeps the rhythm vibrant and entertaining from start to finish.

Less piercing and more rhythmic, Be Nice presents the band’s “softer” side in a 70’s-inspired Rock N’ Roll vibe, perfect for warming up the night at a rock pub anywhere in the world (and you’ll definitely feel compelled to sing the chorus along with them). After that classic rock tune we have Slice of Life, perhaps the most psychedelic of all songs, where the trio extracts pure groove form their instruments, in special John with his hypnotizing guitar while Mark is responsible for bringing heat to the musicality; followed by Forecast, where all you need to do is simply close your eyes and let Jollymon guide you on a whimsical music journey. John is simply superb with his sick guitar solos, and the music remains ethereal and captivating until its gentle ending for our total delight.

The metallic bass lines by Corey ignite the rockin’ feast Missile Commander, another solid composition by the band with John and Mark being in absolute sync, therefore providing Corey all he needs to thrive on vocals, whereas the title-track Void Walker is a flawless fusion of Stoner and Progressive Metal, proudly representing the high quality of the music found in the entire album with an electrifying vibe morphing into Progressive Rock beautifully, all in line with the song’s enthralling lyrics (“Here we go away through the sky, / here we go wade through the fields, / wondering where are lives, are drifting / away through the wheel. / With wings so wide and no room to soar, / before you can fly, you must find the floor. / A picture of the rain, when it falls it won’t feel the same.”). And last but not least, the closing song of the album, entitled Sky Burial, is just as pleasant and soulful as its predecessors, with John kicking some serious ass with his fiery guitar solos.

Do you want to surf the rockin’ waves blasted by Jollymon and show your appreciation for such distinct underground band? You can follow them on Facebook, listen to more of their music on YouTube, and grab your copy of Void Walker (which by the way you can listen in full on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Amazon or from CD Baby. Let’s hope Jollymon don not explode again after the release of Void Walker, but based on the awesomeness found in the album and the way the band is facing this new phase in their career I’m pretty sure we don’t have to worry about that at all. Quite the contrary, those three dauntless musicians will surely keep on rockin’ in our free world and keep marveling us all with their sensational music.

Best moments of the album: Monkeyhawk, A Good Day and Void Walker.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Tsunami 3:48
2. Monkeyhawk 4:43
3. A Good Day 3:56
4. Be Nice 3:46
5. Slice of Life 3:50
6. Forecast 4:07
7. Missile Commander 2:35
8. Void Walker 4:50
9. Sky Burial 5:02

Band members
Carey Rich – vocals, bass
John Colgate – guitar, vocals
Mark Blackburn – drums

Album Review – Augury / Illusive Golden Age (2018)

Following the same path of extreme pounding riffing mixed to the sci-fi and historical concept of their first two albums, this Canadian four-piece act returns with a brand new (and crushing) opus.

Hailing from Montreal, “La Métropole du Québec”, Canadian Progressive Death Metal squad Augury began their journey in 2001 from the ashes of many local acts such as Foreshadow, Kralizec, Atheretic, Quo Vadis, Disembarkation and Neuraxis, with an intent from the start to deliver an extreme dose of Death-Black-Progressive Metal along with an intriguing scientific and esoteric lyrical concept. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Patrick Loisel, guitarist Mathieu Marcotte (Humanoid), bassist Dominic “Forest” Lapointe (First Fragment, Teramobil, Beyond Creation), and newcomer Antoine Baril (Contemplator) on drums, Augury are back in action with their third full-length installment, titled Illusive Golden Age, following the same path of extreme pounding riffing mixed to the sci-fi and historical concept of their first two albums Concealed and Fragmentary Evidence.

Featuring a somber artwork by Canadian musician Filip Ivanović, from Flat Bathtub, Illusive Golden Age will please all fans of progressive and extreme music who are also in constant pursuit of a good background story or meaningful content, making the entire band really proud of the final result achieved. “It took us quite a long time to concretize so we’re eager to see people’s reaction to our new music. Illusive Golden Age is a poetic tale about the recurrence of downfall and a glance at some factors that bring down societies, influenced by lost civilizations and their enigmas”, said those talented Canadian metallers about their brand new spawn.

Thnigs can’t get any more progressive than the title-track Illusive Golden Age, an epitome of modern Progressive Death Metal where Patrick together with Mathieu and Dominic give a lesson in how to treat your strings with respect, delivering beautiful riffs and solos while Antoine demolishes his drums; and Antoine and Dominic ignite the furious The Living Vault in a groovy and captivating way, before Patrick vociferates deeply like an uncanny beast. Furthermore, the song evolves to a very intricate and exciting musicality, with its slashing riffs blending flawlessly with its insanely complex drums until its wicked grand finale. It’s certainly impressive how they blend Progressive and Death Metal so perfectly, which is exactly the case in another lesson in creativity and fury by the quartet titled Carrion Tide, presenting lyrics fans of the genre will definitely love (“They swarm the clouds / Seeded with the morgellon plague / Falling like manna / Tapeworms weave through your brains / Witness the parasite becoming a host / Witness the anthill getting boiled down / Setting to sail / The carrion tide”), whereas in Mater Dolorosa the band takes their ferocity and madness to a whole new level in a feast of crushing riffs, demented drums and deep, cavernous roars (not to mention how the bass punches by Dominic will make your skull tremble), resulting in one of the best and most pulverizing of all songs.

Then if you love demented metal music you’ll have a blast with Maritime, where the band’s guitar duo is not only in total sync, but they complement Antoine’s bestial drumming in a precise manner, setting the stage for Kevin and his berserk gnarls. Message Sonore leans towards more traditional Progressive Metal, with the metallic sounds emanating from their riffs being the core element in this intricate instrumental exhibit (and I should say it would be extremely nice to see them jamming like this live), while Parallel Biospheres carries a classy name for another frantic onrush of Progressive Death Metal led by Antoine and his phenomenal drumming. Put differently, this is a total delight for lovers of the most insane side of progressive music, with Kevin sounding beyond demonic on vocals. And last but not least, their most complex creation, entitled Anchorite, is also their longest one, presenting utterly melodious guitar lines, rhythmic drums and an enfolding atmosphere, with the brutish growls by Kevin effectively bringing an extra dosage of aggressiveness to the overall musicality, culminating in a true musical journey through the wicked universe ruled by Augury until everything comes to a tempestuous and awesome ending.

You can listen to Illusive Golden Age in full on YouTube, and follow Augury on Facebook for news, tour dates and all other updates by the band. And in case Progressive Death Metal is your cup of tea and you’re eager to put your hands on this thunderous and very progressive album, you can find it on sale at the band’s own BandCamp page, at The Artisan Era’s webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. In a nutshell, the third full-length opus by Augury not only cements their name as one of the most exciting new groups of the underground extreme scene, but it also points to a bright future for a band that’s not afraid at all to experiment with sounds while at the same time being as aggressive and heavy as they can be.

Best moments of the album: The Living Vault, Mater Dolorosa and Maritime.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Illusive Golden Age 5:49
2. The Living Vault 6:07
3. Carrion Tide 5:03
4. Mater Dolorosa 6:50
5. Maritime 4:31
6. Message Sonore 3:22
7. Parallel Biospheres 4:31
8. Anchorite 8:07

Band members
Patrick Loisel – vocals, guitars
Mathieu Marcotte – guitars
Dominic “Forest” Lapointe – bass
Antoine Baril – drums

Album Review – Dogmathica / Start Becoming Nothing (2018)

Delivering a clear message that only with the annulment of ego we can be reborn as a species, here comes a ruthless Italian squad and their austere fusion of Groove Metal and Metalcore.

Aiming to resume a path interrupted in 2003, Italian Groove Metal/Metalcore act Dogmathica was born in 2006 in Cagliari, the capital city of the island of Sardinia, from the ashes of another Italian band named L’Ego to deliver what’s called by the band itself as “Groovy, Claustrophobic, Polyrhythmic Metal from Cagliari”. The band has faced some significant changes through the years, until in 2017 they finally reached a stable lineup comprised of vocalist Stefano Pilloni, guitarist and founder Sergio Boi, guitarist Matteo Spiga, bassist Gianni Farci (The Blacktones), and drummer Alessandro Castellano (Acts of Tragedy), culminating with the release in 2018 of their brand new album Start Becoming Nothing.

Featuring a somber artwork by Sergio Boi himself and Elena Delogu, where the leafless tree represents the human condition within modern society, a society that slowly absorbs and consumes our vital energies making us dependent on material possession of objects and people, and with the annulment of ego (“start becoming nothing”) being the only way that leads to rebirth as a species, Start Becoming Nothing is a heavy and bold album of modern-day Metalcore highly recommended for admirers of the genre, inspiring you to slam into the circle pit while at the same time making you think about the awful condition our society is currently going through.

The guitars by Sergio and Matteo generate a heavy and rumbling ambience in the opening track Praghma, before Stefano begins declaiming the song’s austere words (“My fists-the only shots I have / Glass splinter plated knuckles / To blast mirrors and their lies / To fuck fake people / And their doll eyes / From today on I’ll trust / Just my scars”) in a solid display of contemporary Metalcore perfect for cracking your neck headbanging. If that heavy-as-hell start wasn’t enough for your ears, in Chanel N°0 we face bassist Gianni and session drummer Elia Altea (who by the way recorded the drums in the whole album) crushing their instruments mercilessly, making the ground tremble while the band’s stringed trio blasts a potent fusion of classic Melodic Death Metal with American Metalcore, not to mention how beastly Stefano keeps growling and yelling, and consequently inspiring you to headbang like a maniac as well. And led by the groovy and thunderous bass punches by Gianni, Decadancers presents a darker and heavier side of Dogmathica, incorporating the most aggressive and primeval elements of Groove Metal into their Metalcore, with the final result sounding beyond awesome.

Those talented Italian metallers keep hitting us hard in the head with their heavy and groovy sounds in the title-track Start Becoming Nothing, with the guitar duo Sergio and Matteo once again delivering sharp and metallic riffs while Stefano bursts his lungs screaming; and get ready to break your spinal cord in half in another brutally heavy Metalcore tune named Rise Up, also showcasing hints of Groove and Progressive Metal, therefore being recommended for fans of bands like Meshuggah and Gojira, with highlights to the pounding drumming by Elia. After such destructive hymn we have Screaming In The Darkness, a well-balanced blend of the heavier and slower sounds of Groove Metal with the more frantic approach of Metalcore, with all band members bringing tons of progressiveness to the music and with its lyrics being perfect for shouting along with Stefano (“I’m awake, sitting in the middle of nowhere / Feeling your hands around my neck / I feel the cold inside me / I hold the iron of my cage / I perceive all my suffering / And I screaming in empty space / Screaming in the darkness”).

The last pair of unrelenting Metalcore tunes blasted by Dogmathica close the album on a high note, leaving you eager for more of their music. First we have Hatred, another good sample of how aggressive and intricate their music always sounds and feels, being full of breaks and variations, where Gianni and Elia continue to build a massive wall of rumbling sounds with their bass and drums, respectively, followed by Burnum, sounding more modern, belligerent and electrified than all previous tunes. Furthermore, it’s Elia with his complex, progressive beats and Stefano with his sick screams who dictate the rhythm, while Serigo and Matteo don’t get tired of slashing their strings.

In summary, if you love modern Metalcore with a strong Groove Metal essence, then Start Becoming Nothing (which you can listen in full on Spotify) is perfect for your avid ears, presenting all the heaviest and most rumbling elements from those metal styles. And if you want to show your support to Dogmathica, simply like them on Facebook, listen to more of their music on SoundCloud, and purchase Start Becoming Nothing directly from their BandCamp page or from CD Baby. Our society might be heading to its inevitable doomsday sooner than we can imagine, so why not at least banging our heads to the acid music by Dogmathica until the end?

Best moments of the album: Chanel N°0, Decadancers and Screaming In The Darkness.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Praghma 5:04
2. Chanel N°0 4:22
3. Decadancers 4:23
4. Start Becoming Nothing 4:53
5. Rise Up 4:25
6. Screaming In The Darkness 4:07
7. Hatred 3:50
8. Burnum 5:12

Band members
Stefano Pilloni – vocals
Sergio Boi – guitar
Matteo Spiga – guitar
Gianni Farci – bass
Alessandro Castellano – drums*

*Drums recorded by Elia Altea