Album Review – Dead Witches / The Final Exorcism (2019)

One of the most infamous British covens returns to exorcise our demons with another fantastic lesson in Doom Metal.

The haunting vocals, heavy riffs, fuzzed bass and savage drumming blasted by the infamous British Occult Stoner/Doom Metal coven known as Dead Witches are back for our total delight in 2019 in their brand new sophomore opus titled The Final Exorcism, a follow up to their 2017 extravaganza Ouija. The brainchild of drummer Mark Greening, founding member of Electric Wizard, Ramesses and With The Dead, Dead Witches took the underworld of heavy music by storm with their debut album in 2017, but it’s now with The Final Exorcism that the quartet sounds even more powerful, damned and gloomy, just the way we like it in Doom Metal.

Featuring the aforementioned Mark on drums accompanied by bassist Carl Geary and newcomers Soozi Chameleone (from Satlan) on vocals and Oliver Irongiant (from Grave Lines, Sea Bastard and End the Agony) on the guitar, replacing Virginia Monti and Greg Elk (R.I.P.), respectively, The Final Exorcism is not only the epitome of everything Dead Witches stand for, but a highly recommended album for admirers of devilish and cryptic doom who simply love the night. Put differently, get ready to be dragged down to pitch black darkness with over 40 minutes of classic Doom Metal made in England split into seven distinct and beautifully crafted songs embraced by the somber artwork by Goatess Doomwych, who had already worked with the band in their previous effort.

A cryptic, horror movie-inspired intro named There’s Someone There sets the stage for the sluggish and grim title-track The Final Exorcism, where Oliver begins his riff-attack together with Carl’s reverberating bass punches, all enfolded by Soozi’s sexy and hellish vocals and roars. In other words, this is first-class neck-breaking Doom Metal, offering our ears over seven minutes of somber and atmospheric passages, pounding beats and endless obscurity. And the distorted guitar lines by Oliver keep dictating the rhythm in Goddess Of The Night, while Mark does what he knows best, which is smashing his drums slowly, steadily and fiercely. In addition, Soozi sings like she’s the true goddess of the night, embellishing the airwaves with her damned vocals. Then Dead Witches ask a simple question to us in the wicked When Do The Dead See The Sun, with the answer being quite easy (obviously never), and the music translates that fact into sheer melancholy, feeling like it was taken from a Tarantino movie and, consequently, warming up our senses for The Church By The Sea, where Mark and Carl generate a massive wall of sounds with their weapons while Soozi will put you on a trance in this Sabbath-inspired Doom and Stoner Metal aria. Also, don’t forget to check out this sick live footage recorded on February 22, 2019 during their performance at Heavy Psych Sounds Fest at The Borderline, in London. It’s doom in its rawest form.

The last part of the album is just amazing, starting with Lay, Demon, a brutal and visceral Doom Metal hymn led by Mark’s Stygian beats, while Oliver and Carl keep extracting absolute evil from their strings. “Lay, Demon was the second track that we wrote for the new record, The Final Exorcism,” said Mark. “This is a slab of old-school doom, with a heavy crushing swing to it, as it plods along to cast out any evil spirits that have entered your soul. Vocalist Soozi Chameleone adds lyrics that tell the tale of a demonic romance, and what happens when you become entranced by an evil spirit …”; whereas in Fear The Priest the whole band summons our spirits for one final exorcism, with its bass and riffs sounding menacing and thunderous from start to finish. Furthermore, the music remains disturbing and alluring for over nine minutes, with Soozi once again stealing the spotlight with her demonic vocal performance. As Mark himself said about this feast of blackened sounds, “Fear The Priest was the last track to be written to complete the album, the idea of the track is based around demonic possession, good vs evil, the fear the possessed person has towards the priest, it’s the longest track on the album, the riffs are pure evil and I think it’s the perfect track to let people know what to expect from the new album.”

You can have a blast with Dead Witches by listening to their brand new sonic exorcism in full on YouTube, by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel or by listening to more of their music on Spotify, as well as of course by purchasing The Final Exorcism from the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp or webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, as long as you join this talented coven hailing from the UK, a place where dark and damp days, exorcisms and doom are just around the corner waiting, readily available for everyone who loves top-of-the-line dark and sluggish metal music and whose soul has already been consumed by darkness and evil.

Best moments of the album: The Final Exorcism and Fear The Priest.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. There’s Someone There 0:35
2. The Final Exorcism 7:32
3. Goddess Of The Night 8:08
4. When Do The Dead See The Sun 1:38
5. The Church By The Sea 7:33
6. Lay, Demon 5:47
7. Fear The Priest 9:29

Band members
Soozi Chameleone – vocals
Oliver Irongiant – guitar
Carl Geary – bass
Mark Greening – drums

Album Review – Orchid / Miasma (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: Disassembly Line.

Released in 2019 Independent

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

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

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

Album Review – Spiral Skies / Blues For A Dying Planet (2018)

Get ready to be put in a trance and to be taken on a unique musical journey by a psychedelic Swedish band and their “rock from another planet”.

With influences ranging over decades, Swedish Occult Rock band Spiral Skies has created a sound that can most easily be described as “rock from another planet”, a unique blend of folk, doom and 70’s-inspired rock music the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Curved Air and The Devil’s Blood, all embraced by a unique visual performance at their intense and enchanting live shows. After their debut EP A Queendom to Come, released in 2015, it’s time for Spiral Skies to further spread their sorcery with their brand new album beautifully titled Blues For A Dying Planet, an ode to the past that’s at the same time always looking into the future.

Formed in 2014 in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Spiral Skies are the talented Frida on vocals, Jonas and Dan on the guitars, Eric on bass and Daniel on drums, each one with a different musical background and distinct influences, but all sharing the same passion for 70´s genuine rock and metal music. In Blues For A Dying Planet, which features a classy cover illustration by Vadim Karasyov, cover and booklet design by Atmanoid, and cover photo by Björn Pettersson, the band brings forth an amalgamation of styles with a strong Psychedelic Doom Metal and Rock core essence, putting you in a trance and taking you to the golden years of rock, always spearheaded by the mesmerizing vocals by Frida.

An organ and the sound of the wind in the intro Black Hole Waltz ignite the feast of Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal named Awakening, with Jonas and Dan dictating the rhythm with their Iron Madein-ish riffs while Frida gives a lesson in passion and energy with her flamboyant vocals. Put differently, this rockin’ hymn has an old school Heavy Metal vibe that, when blended with its core Doom Metal essence, makes things even more captivating. Following such powerful start we have Dark Side of the Cross, a very good song to dance under the stars that leans towards the classic Doom Metal by Black Sabbath with a more whimsical Rock N’ Roll aura, also showcasing a great job done by Daniel with his intricate beats; and The Wizard’s Ball, where Frida keeps delivering sheer awesomeness through her charming and potent vocals, with the rest of the band keeping the music at a very pleasant and gripping pace, flowing smoothly until its climatic ending. Then it’s time to dance with Frida and the boys in Danse Macabre, a classic Hard Rock song with tons of psychedelic elements from Doom Metal added to its beautiful sonority, with Jonas and Dan blasting straightforward, old school guitar riffs that effectively help embellish the ambience.

Labyrinth of the Mind is perhaps the most Black Sabbath of all tracks, with a great balance between the heaviness of the guitar riffs and the gentle voice by Frida, resulting in a hypnotizing musicality perfect for closing your eyes and letting the band take you on a one-of-a-kind musical journey. In Shattered Hopes we’re treated to a hybrid between pure Psychedelic Rock and more contemporary Doom Metal and Hard Rock, uniting past and present through the riffs by the band’s guitar duo and the always fiery vocals by Frida; whereas the poetically-titled tune Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind has its name translated into classic Rock N’ Roll with tons of psychedelia added to its mesmerizing waves. Furthermore, Eric with his solid bass lines and Daniel with his fierce beats create the perfect background for Frida to shine once again on vocals. And lastly, their feast of classy and gripping sounds is majestically concluded with the lesson in Psychedelic Rock and Metal named The Prisoner, a full-bodied voyage led by the heavy and very melodic guitars by both Jonas and Dan.

The enchanting voice by Frida and her Spiral Skies can be better appreciated through the band’s Facebook page and Spotify, and if you want to buy a copy of Blues For A Dying Planet and consequently have all that’s needed to prance around the fire pit under a moonlit sky, you can find the album on sale at the AOP Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, at the Nuclear Blast webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. Although the 70’s might be long gone and everything is now just a distant memory, the music by bands like Spiral Skies is what keeps the spirit and passion of that golden decade burning bright inside our souls.

Best moments of the album: Awakening, Danse Macabre and The Prisoner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 AOP Records

Track listing
1. Black Hole Waltz 1:25
2. Awakening 3:31
3. Dark Side of the Cross 4:04
4. The Wizard’s Ball 5:36
5. Danse Macabre 4:18
6. Labyrinth of the Mind 5:42
7. Shattered Hopes 3:18
8. Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind 4:38
9. The Prisoner 6:02

Band members
Frida – vocals
Jonas – guitars
Dan – guitars
Eric – bass
Daniel – drums

Album Review – Free From Gravity / Saints and Sinners EP (2016)

Come along and take away a bit of kick-ass British Rock N’ Roll.

Rating5

FFG_Saints and Sinners EPLet’s take a short and sweet break from all the insanity and devastation that usually blasts from The Headbanging Moose and chill out to the dancing music by British Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll group Free From Gravity. Highly inspired by classics such as The Who, Eric Clapton and The Beatles, among other renowned artists who have showed the world the beauty of a catchy chorus, of melodious but punky guitars and obviously of those famous yeah-yeah-yeah’s, Free From Gravity play what they call “Kick Assed Chilled Out Rock” (or Soft Rock with Attitude), and that’s exactly what you’ll find in each one of the four compositions that together give life to Saints and Sinners, the brand new EP by this classy four-piece act from Portsmouth, a large port city located on the south coast of the UK.

Led by vocalist and guitarist Vince Barnes, Free From Gravity are affiliated to Yes To Life, a cancer charity dedicated to helping people find complementary and alternative medicines to combat cancer, also inspiring Vince and his crew to write music as you can see in their debut single The Long Road (see more details HERE). That alone is already enough for all of us headbangers to give all our respect to the band, but add to that their professionalism, their dexterity with their instruments and their passion for rock music and there you have the perfect recipe for awesomeness.

The frist song of the EP, titled Crazy Lady, feels like a journey back to the 60’s and 70’s when Psychedelic Rock (or just Rock N’ Roll if you prefer) the likes of The Beatles and The Who dominated the entire world. Vince Barnes has that smooth type of voice perfect for telling a story through music, not to mention the song’s yeah-yeah-yeah’s, and I truly love the deep sound emanating from Lewis Trickett’s bass throughout the entire song. Faster and heavier, Dance with Me is a traditional British Rock N’ Roll tune where Vince and lead guitarist Tony “ToneDeff” Bennett put us all to dance with their electrified riffs and extremely catchy chorus, with the outstanding guitar solo by Tony adding a lot of energy to the music. Hence, I’m pretty sure this fun song will pump up the crowd during their live performances.

FFGA Hard Rock name like Saints and Sinners obviously demanded a Hard Rock vibe, and that’s what the entire band effectively offers to the listener in this case. Drummer TJ Jackson keeps the fuel flowing through the band’s engine with his crisp beats, with Tony once again firing an excellent guitar solo while backing vocals nicely complement the vocal lines by Vince. I want to see more of this wilder side of Free From Gravity, letting their Southern Rock-ish vein flourish even more in their future compositions. And there’s more traditional Brit Rock for you embraced by a 60’s/70’s aura named Step into the Sunlight, a recommended song to listen on the road where Vince and Tony once again deliver some exciting guitar lines and solos, leaving the doors open for more Free From Gravity in a near future (perhaps with their first full-length album).

Not only you can connect with Free From Gravity through their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, as well as purchase their EP at the CD Baby webstore or on Amazon, but if you live near Portsmouth you can  also see the band performing live in what’s known as “guerrilla gigs” across the south coast of England. The exact location of those gigs will be kept a secret, with the band announcing each one only hour ahead of time on Facebook (which means fans will need to keep a keen eye on their Facebook page). As all members from Free From Gravity are fully behind the philosophy “Come Along And Take Away A Bit Of Magic”, why don’t you help them “fight” those guerrillas while enjoying their kick-ass Rock N’ Roll? I’m sure you’ll have a very good time doing that.

Best moments of the album: Saints and Sinners.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Crazy Lady 4:47
2. Dance with Me 4:49
3. Saints and Sinners 3:47
4. Step into the Sunlight 4:40

Band members
Vince Barnes – vocals, rhythm guitar
Tony “ToneDeff” Bennett – lead guitar
Lewis Trickett – bass guitar
TJ Jackson – drums

Album Review – Phantom / …Of Gods and Men (2014)

With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.

Rating3

Of Gods And Men v2.9Do you really love Heavy Metal? Do you not only listen to it, but feel it and live it every single day of your life? If your answer is “YES!”, screaming with your horns in the air, you MUST listen to …Of Gods and Men, the brand new album by Canadian Heavy Metal band Phantom, by far one of the best new metal bands I can think of. D.D. Murley, Necro Hippie and J.J. Blade (who unfortunately has left the band to pursue other career goals) are true Heavy Metal warriors, and they more than deliver it in this indie masterpiece.

Formed in January of 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, this Heavy Metal/Power Metal trio simply masters the art of crafting catchy, dynamic and nostalgic music, inspired by the musicality of the 80’s with huge doses of energy and passion for Heavy Metal. After releasing their 2013 EP The Powers That Be, and after playing the Newblood Stage at the famous Bloodstock Festival in the UK in 2014, this promising and electrifying band sounds even more mature and more than ready to conquer the world with their first full-length album. …Of Gods and Men is a Heavy Metal extravaganza, with each and every song definitely worth our time, money, screams and horns.

A megalith is not only a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones, like Stonehenge in the UK or the Easter Island’s Moai, but also the album art in …Of Gods and Men and the album’s imposing intro, Megalith, setting the tone for the superb Children of the Stars to kick some serious ass: the name is 80’s metal, the music is 80’s metal, and it’s totally awesome from start to finish.  Vocalist/guitarist D.D. Murley has an amazing voice, he is a great riffmaker, and he will surely get you pumped to scream with him the simple but excellent chorus “Pray for us / Children of the stars”. In other words, he knows how to deliver Heavy Metal to us all.

Too Young to Die, with its awesome bass lines and drums, introduces to us the refined skills of the other band members, bassist Necro Hippie and drummer J.J. Blade. Besides, its great energy and the message in the lyrics are a delight to fans of old school metal music, making it almost impossible not to start banging our heads nonstop. However, it’s the next song that can be considered the icing on the cake in …Of Gods and Men: Blood & Iron, a song heavily inspired by behemoths like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon, is the epitome of Heavy Metal, and there isn’t a single detail here that’s not 100% pure fuckin’ metal. I saw Phantom playing it live once opening for Blaze Bayley here in Toronto, and it got stuck inside my mind instantly. With its perfect galloping rhythm, Manowar-ish lyrics and also the “Oh-oh-oh-oh!” halfway through it, this is already a classic no matter if it’s a brand new song by an indie band. Why these guys are not signed yet to a strong record label is a question beyond my comprehension.

phantom-promoAnyway, the longest song of the album, The Kings Road, is more melodic than its predecessors, reminding me of old school Iron Maiden from Piece Of Mind and Powerslave with elements from 70’s Psychedelic Rock. It’s indeed a bold 8-minute instrumental track where all band members showcase their outstanding techniques as musicians. Right after that metal feast we have another intro, this time called Trinity, which invites us to enjoy the title-track, Of Gods and Men, with its beginning being a good indicator that pure metal is about to come. It’s another lesson in heavy music, with highlights to its great chorus and to the incredible synergy among all band members.

How not to headbang like a motherfuckin’ bastard to something that sounds even like old school Anthrax due to its heavier approach? Well, that’s the case in The Devil In Me, with its ressonating bass lines guiding the music while J.J. Blade pounds his drum kit. And lastly, the band offers us Beyond the Sun, a song that will leave us eager for more of Phantom’s heavy music without a shadow of a doubt. This is like Iron Maiden with Paul Di’Anno on vocals, with all its shredding, solos and insane speed making it truly outstanding.

The band will release …Of Gods and Men on December 6 at Toronto’s own legendary rock bar, the Bovine Sex Club, and if you live in Toronto or will be around the city on that day or weekend, do not miss the chance to witness one of the most powerful and exciting indie bands in Canada. There will be plenty of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire for all fans that attend their concert, and even more to tame the entire world with the release of such an epic album. This is Heavy Metal, period.

Best moments of the album: Children of the Stars, Blood & Iron and Beyond the Sun.

Worst moments of the album: Nothing in …Of Gods and Men is bad or boring at all.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Megalith 2:24
2. Children of the Stars 4:18
3. Too Young to Die 3:57
4. Blood & Iron 4:04
5. The Kings Road 8:20
6. Trinity 1:11
7. Of Gods and Men 5:28
8. The Devil In Me 5:08
9. Beyond the Sun 5:38

Band members
D.D. Murley – lead vocals and guitar
Necro Hippie – bass guitar
J.J. Blade – drums*

* Currently J.J. Blade has left the band to pursue other career goals.