Album Review – The Promise Of Plague / The Tomb Of Lost Lovers (2019)

The debut album by this American quartet is an obscure fusion of black, industrial, punk and electronic, and you’ll simply love this style known as “Electro Black”.

Featuring members and ex-members of bands like Abominant, Fatal Step, Astrum Empyrean Asunder, Absence of Faith, Märcoda and Assisting Sorrow, the Louisville, Kentucky-based four-piece Industrial Black Metal entity known as The Promise Of Plague is back in 2019 with their debut full-length opus entitled The Tomb Of Lost Lovers, a huge step forward for the band in terms of creativity, strength and overall sound production compared to their 2016 demo Sleepwalking Into Armageddon. Comprised of Jim Higgins and Ashley Vega on vocals, Jerry Barksdale on guitars, keys and programming, and Chris Dalton on bass, The Promise Of Plague play an obscure and piercing fusion of Black and Industrial Metal infused with Punk Rock and electronic elements, or as some people like to say, they play a fairly new style called “Electro Black”.

And their Electro Black becomes already crystal clear in the opening track You Became My Noose, ignited by cutting guitars and electronic beats intertwined with whimsical keys, with Jim alternating between demonic roars and clean, anguished vocals and also presenting symphonic nuances in the background as a welcome add-on. Tim keeps gnarling in great Black Metal fashion in The Quiet, while Jerry slashes his guitar and Ashley brings some finesse to the music with her vocals in a short and sweet display of modern Industrial Black Metal; followed by These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown, where its imposing and rockin’ vibe reminds me of the primeval days of the unparalleled Cradle of Filth. Furthermore, Jerry and Chris are ruthless with their stringed weapons, while Jim and Ashley make an amazing duet once again exhaling anger, passion, melancholy and darkness from their vocal lines, sounding at the same time furious and doomed. And what can I say about their cover version for Venom’s Warhead? It’s just as raw and infernal as the original one released in 1984 (check it out HERE), showcasing a great job done by Jerry with his scorching hot riffs and the hints of Doom Metal added to the musicality to make it more demonic.

Then leaning towards the classic Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost we have Insolent, sounding and feeling considerably different from the previous songs of the album and presenting another spot-on performance by both Jim and Ashley on vocals. In other words, it’s dark, heavy and damned, ending in the most melancholic and beautiful manner you can think of. Chris’ low-tuned bass lines fill every empty space in the somber Mine Is A Place Called Hell, where Ashley’s clean vocals make a very interesting paradox with Jim’s hellish screeches in what’s perhaps the most electronic of all songs, perfectly depicting what Electro Black is all about. And lastly, the title-track Tomb Of Lost Lovers is a rumbling and dancing hybrid of classic Black Metal with electronic music, with Jerry bringing tons of epicness with his keys. Not only that, it should work really well at a dark electro party, with all band members delivering sheer aggression and electricity form their respective instruments.

I guess after reading this humble review of The Tomb Of Lost Lovers you got really curious about what Electro Black is, right? If your answer is yes, go check what The Promise Of Plague are up to on their official Facebook page, and grab your copy of the album directly from the band’s own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, The Promise Of Plague might not be reinventing the wheel with their fusion of metal and non-metal styles, but they have certainly unleashed an interesting and entertaining beast of heaviness, fury and darkness with their debut album, pointing to a very healthy future for the quartet and, who knows, inspiring more underground musicians who are starting their careers in heavy music to venture through the realms of Electro Black, a subgenre of metal that will never go mainstream without any doubt, and we’ll always love it that way.

Best moments of the album: These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown and Insolent.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. You Became My Noose 3:54
2. The Quiet 1:53
3. These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown 4:38
4. Warhead (Venom cover) 3:03
5. Insolent 5:44
6. Mine Is A Place Called Hell 3:18
7. Tomb Of Lost Lovers 3:50

Band members
Jim Higgins – vocals
Ashley Vega – vocals
Jerry Barksdale – guitar, keys, electronics
Chris Dalton – bass

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Interview – Through The Noise

It’s time for vocalist Jowl Nyberg and guitarist Marcus Skantz to make some noise in this fun interview where they talk about their excellent band Through The Noise and their brand new album Dualism .

Through The Noise

The Headbanging Moose: Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers? How would you define Through The Noise?

Jowl Nyberg: I’m Jowl and I’m the vocalist and one of the founders of the band. We’ve always struggled to define Through The Noise, at least genre-wise, since we’ve never tried to fit in to a specific genre. We’re just a couple of guys who enjoy heavy music and try our best to present our listeners with just that: heavy music. We play metal with a touch of hardcore, that’s as close as we can come when we try to define it.

Marcus Skantz: Marcus and one of the guitarist in the band. To me, Through The Noise is a high energetic with both a lot of aggression and big melodies.

THM: Your brand new album Dualism is a fun and electrifying feast of heavy and hardcore sounds, but also full of melody and very polished. How was the recording process of the album, and did everything go according to your original plan?

JN: We knew from the start that we wanted to work with Erik Wiss at Wiss Music Productions again, why change a winning concept, right!? He knows our sound and we love to work with him, he always pushes us towards perfection and has nice inputs on our work. Although this time around Marcus had joined the band and he have some recording skills and equipment that the rest of us don’t, so we decided to record only the vocals and drums at Wiss Music Productions. The guitars and bass tracks are recorded in Marcus bedroom and then mixed at Wiss Music Productions along with everything else.

We only had like two-three tracks to work with before we booked the studio, so the process to write the rest of the songs was pretty intense, but that’s the way we like it: we thrive under pressure! Marcus and I spent many late nights at his place during this period. This was a bit different than our last album ´Fall Of Gaia´ where we wrote all the songs together in our rehearsal space.

MS: We booked the studio to record our second album just a month after I joined the band by the end of the summer 2017. By then, we just had one finished song and two song ideas to work with but we really needed a sharp deadline to kick our selves in the butt and write some new music. Five months later we had nine songs pre prodded and ready to be recorded. Peter went to Erik at Wiss Music Production and tracked all drums by the end of February and then me, Victor and Martin had about a month to record all the guitars and bass in my home studio before we returned to Erik to finish with all the vocals. The whole recording process went great even though it resulted in many late nights in my home studio due to my day work plus me, Jowl and Peter participating in a short film project where I helped with all post editing of sound and effects.

Jowl Nyberg (Through The Noise)

THM: Which songs from Dualism do you think better represent the band, and do you think your fans get that message while listening to your music or while watching you guys play live?

JN: We’ve always strived for intense, energetic songs with catchy and melodic choruses and I’d say that we deliver on that with all the songs on ´Dualism´ but if I had to pick one, I’d go with Psychomachia. If one truly wants to experience Through The Noise though: live is the way to go!

THM: One of my favorite songs of the album, Maktbegär (which I believe means “lust for power” from Swedish), is the only one sung in your mother tongue. Why did you guys decide to record that specific song in Swedish? Is there a special reason behind that?

JN: You are quite right in your translation, it does indeed mean “lust for power”.

I’ve always wanted to try and write something in Swedish and this is something that I’ve dabbled (and struggled) with at home for some time. ´Maktbegär´ actually started out as a translation and my own interpretation of a song called ´Mercy Me´ by one of my favourite punk-rock bands ´Alkaline Trio´ that I made for fun. The more I worked with it, it turned into something completely different that was too good not to use and the first time Marcus showed me this song I just knew that it would fit like a glove. I’ve also always felt like our regional dialect “skånska” fits well with hardcore-type vocals.

THM: How did you guys invite local Swedish punk vocalist Jahna Lund (from Death By Horse) to sing in three songs from Dualism? She has an amazing voice and matched perfectly your music. Can we expect more of that type of partnership in your future releases?

JN: Jahna and her band ´Death By Horse´ are close personal friends of mine: I love their music and Jahna’s characteristic voice! We’ve joined each other on stage plenty of times and I love collaborations and features on records, so it felt natural to invite her to add another level to our work. On our last record ´Fall Of Gaia´ I did a similar thing with a friend from work for the song ´The Accursed´ which turned out great so it might be a recurring theme on our albums!

MS: Jahna is a personal friend to us and we asked her to do some vocals on Psychomachia. While writing the song Secret Project we realized we needed a lot of choirs so we thought that she could be part of that song as well. The day she was in Erik’s studio she listened to some of the songs that was finished and when she heard the track Beyond Betrayal she got some ideas she wanted to test and that’s how she ended up in three songs of the record.

You just never know! If we write a piece where we think her voice would fit, we would not hesitate on asking her to do some more guest vocals.

Marcus Skantz (Through The Noise)

THM: Do you consider yourselves a metal band with punk and hardcore influences, or a punk and hardcore band with metal influences? How are the more diehard fans from both sides reacting to your music?

JN: This is interesting because we’ve always felt like we’re “in between”, so to speak. We’ve been considered “not hardcore enough” for hardcore festivals as well as “not heavy enough” for metal festivals. This is both a blessing and a burden in my opinion, it makes us somewhat unique but at the same time it alienates us from some gigs and crowds. Since I come from the punkrock/hardcore-scene originally and most of the other guys are more metalheads it’s only natural that our music sounds like something in between and that’s what makes us who we are.

MS: If you ask me we are a metal band with punk and hardcore influences, but that is me coming mainly from a thrash and melodic death background and I write songs in a certain way. If you ask Jowl I bet he thinks of it the other way around. I don’t think it really matters. We are a metal/hardcore band and we blend many different kind of styles into the mix with the outcome that we sound like Through The Noise.

THM: How’s the local metal and hardcore scene in your hometown Lund, in the city of Malmö and in Sweden in general? Can you recommend some bands from the underground scene that you think our readers should take a listen at?

JN: We have a lot of great local bands but not a lot of places for them (us) to play, unfortunately. Most bands around here head for Germany, eastern Europe, the Balkans and so on since there are more places to play and bigger audiences. It’s like the old saying “Big In Japan”, many bands are huge in other countries and almost unknown back home in Sweden.

Eastern High (Progressive-Metal), The Generations Army (Thrash-Metal), Wolves Within (Melodic-Hardcore), Mörbultad (Hardcore in Swedish), Chine (Death/Groove-Metal), Escaping Amenti (Theatrical/Apocalyptic Metalcore), Faithful Darkness (Melodic death-metal), Pandemonium (Symphonic Black Death-Metal) just to name a few!

MS: Both in general and locally, we have a thriving metal and hardcore scene in Sweden with a lot of great underground and up-and-coming bands. Kill The Kong, Imminence, Eleine and Eastern High just to name a few. We have a long tradition of great hard rock, metal and hardcore bands coming from Sweden which inspires us all.

Album Review – Through The Noise / Dualism (2019)

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music, and what inspires you to write heavy music?

JN: My biggest influences when it comes to lyricwriting are Matt Skiba of ´Alkaline Trio´ and Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail. I tend to write deep, often melancholic, emotional and (at least to me) meaningful lyrics with a lot of metaphors that tells a story and I believe that I have these two gentlemen to thank for a lot of that! When it comes to my vocal style I guess Alexander Hagman of ´Raised Fist´, Andrew Neufeld of ´Comeback Kid´ and Tim McIlrath of ´Rise Against´ are some influences but also guys like Jake Luhrs of ´August Burns Red´. Other than that: playing and making heavy music is a great stress and anger release!

MS: My biggest influences comes from bands like Metallica, Pantera, Killswitch Engage and Machine Head in terms of how to build up a song, get the right groove and surprise or satisfy the listener. I often tries to write songs, riffs and so on that I myself would like to hear. I think it’s an honest way to treat the song and keep it real for both the listener and me as a composer.

THM: What about the future of the band? What can we expect from Through The Noise in the short and long term? And how are your tour plans going so far for the promotion of Dualism?

JN: We’re planning and hoping to take the band to the next level with this album! At the moment we are trying our best to book as many shows as possible for the rest of the year, at least, and after that we look forward to the process of making our next album! We’re here to stay and this is what we put all our effort into!

MS: In short term we are currently trying to book as many shows as possible with a fall of 2019 tour in the early planning stage. Of course we’re also planning for a follow up EP or full-length but since, while writing this, we have not released Dualism yet our focus right now is mainly on promoting the record and get out to play.

THM: Thanks you very much for your time! Please feel free to send your final considerations to our readers, to remind them where to buy your music, and anything else you would like to say.

JN: Thank you for taking an interest in our band! We would be very grateful if you visit and follow us on our social media pages and web shop (see links below), add our songs to your playlists and (of course) catch us live! This means the world to us and would really help us out!

Upcoming shows
May 4 @ Helltown Mini Festival at Jutan, Helsingborg, Sweden
June 7 @ Backstage Varberg, Varberg, Sweden

Links
Through The Noise Facebook | Intagram | Twitter | YouTube | Big Cartel | Spotify | iTunes | Amazon | Google Play | Deezer

Metal Chick of the Month – Wanda Ortiz

I’ve been looking so long for you now… You won’t get away from my grasp…

As 2019 promises to be another memorable year for Maidenmaniacs from all over the world, especially for the ones that reside in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America who will have the utmost pleasure of seeing Steve, Bruce & Co. live during their upcoming Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019, there’s nothing better than kicking off our Metal Chick of the Month section with an amazing bass player that truly understands what it means to be part of the legacy (and also continuing our tradition of starting the year with a badass girl on bass guitar, of course). I’m talking about Wanda Ortiz (or Wanda A. Ortiz), the skillful bass player for the all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens (billed as the “World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden”) under the brilliant stage name of Steph Harris, who’s ready to crush your skull in half to the sound of her thunderous, galloping bass allied to her endless stamina when performing live.

Born on March 27, 1968 in Huntington Beach, a California city southeast of Los Angeles, Wanda first learned to play bass at the early age of nine years old, when the elementary school she attended had a music program that enabled students to sign up and choose an instrument. When she arrived late on the first day of music class, she wound up with a junior-sized double bass, and from that moment on we can say it was “love at first gallop”. In addition to that, while she took lessons on the double bass, also known as an upright bass, Wanda also taught herself how to play electric bass when she was 11 years old in order to play in the school jazz band, and she continued playing bass throughout her school years, eventually earning a Bachelor of Music in Performance (BMus) degree from UCI – University of California, Irvine. One funny thing about Wanda and her relationship with the bass guitar is that, according to Wanda herself, she felt a little sad about her instrument when in high school because she could rarely play the melody, which were the fun parts for her, as she got stuck with simpler lines meant to hold down the beat (in other words, a typical bass line), which despite being very important could get really boring at times. Luckily, she had a friend who told her about bands like Iron Maiden and Rush that really featured bass in their music and, after listening to them, she felt a lot better.

Moving on to her career as a musician, our dauntless bassist, who plays a variety of styles such as Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Blues and classical music armed with her glitter blue G&L SB-2 bass guitar and her black SB-2 bass guitar on select shows, started playing in a more professional way in 1997, when she joined a California-based Punk Rock/Rock N’ Roll band named Rotten Rod & The Warheads. She was their bassist from 1997 to 2002, having recorded with the band a demo in 1998 titled Practice Bomb (under the eccentric moniker of “Wanda Smart Bomb”), containing songs like Germs and Cruel World. I don’t know about you, but I would love to listen to the music by this fun and electrifying band on any rock n’ roll radio out there. Anyway, while still playing for Rotten Rod & The Warheads, she was also the bassist for Heartache City from 1999 to 2001, with whom she recorded the band’s self-titled album in 2001. I couldn’t find anything online form this band, but if Wanda was their bass player I’m sure their music was at least fun to listen to, right? Furthermore, Wanda was also the bassist for a Huntington Beach-based Rock/Blues band named Field of Vision in 2004, having recorded with them the six-track album FOV that same year, highly influenced by renowned acts such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground. Once again, there’s nothing online about this specific album, but as aforementioned we know from the bottom of our hearts it’s good music we’re talking about. As a matter of fact, in 1998 and 2004, she won the Best Female Bassist award at the Rock City News Awards and, in 2003, she also won the best bassist award at The All Access Music Magazine Awards, proving how talented and focused she has always been as a musician.

In addition to those previous acts and to The Iron Maidens, our ass-kicking bassist also works as a freelance musician in various groups and orchestras in the Southern California area, including The South Coast Symphony as principal bassist since 1996. When asked about how different it is playing for The South Coast Symphony and for The Iron Maidens, if that’s the type of diversity she needs in her playing style, Wanda said that she likes to play classical music just as much as metal, and after playing an upright bass she thinks it keeps her chops up, also saying that it’s like someone who enjoys playing basketball and baseball, two different sports but both fun, which is the same with classical music and metal for her. Moreover, her talent is also recognized by several important brands and companies, being endorsed by BBE Sound, Digitech, Dunlop Manufacturing, G&L Musical Instruments, RotoSound Strings, Schroeder Superior Sound Cabinets, Coffin Case and Monster Energy Drink, and she’s also been in a couple of interesting documentaries recently, those being Hair I Go Again (2016) and the upcoming Rock Is Dead? (2019).

It was in September 2002 when Wanda finally joined The Iron Maidens, remaining with the band ever since and adopting her stage name “Steph Harris” as an obvious reference to Iron Maiden’s iconic bassist and founder Mr. Steve Harris. So far, she has recorded with the band the albums World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden (2005), Route 666 (2007), The Root of All Evil (2008) and the video Metal Gathering Tour Live in Japan (2010), trying to be as loyal as possible to Iron Maiden’s original sound. In one of her interviews, Wanda said that when she joined the band everyone was just looking for a fun and original side project (there were already several all-female tribute acts for bands like AC/DC in the area), as they all had their own bands and projects, with a goal of playing maybe once or twice a month at some local pubs. However, after the first few shows a lot of people started calling them, with things really kicking off after the band had been together for about a year despite the fact they never took themselves too seriously at that time. As a matter of fact, if there’s one thing they always took very seriously was the music, always trying to replicate the original tones from Iron Maiden the best possible way even with the different instruments they use like Wanda’s bass, which is technically a Fender bass but not the same one used by Steve. If you want to take a good listen at how amazing Wanda and the girls from The Iron Maidens are, simply search for them on YouTube, as there are countless fantastic videos of their live performances such as The Trooper and Die With Your Boots On in California in 2014, or these two full concerts recorded in New York in 2018 and in California in 2013. Also, how about a nice and relaxed interview with the entire band conducted by Grasser Production in 2017 called “15 questions with The Iron Maidens”?

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Regarding the songs she likes to play the most from the Iron Maiden vast and rich discography, she said her all-time favorite are Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra), Phantom of the Opera, Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and when questioned if it’s hard for The Iron Maidens to come up with a setlist to please all fans she said it’s not difficult at all because it’s drummer Linda McDonald who keeps track of all places the band plays and what songs they played before, also taking into account her own endurance and the timing for their lead singer to do a costume change, for example, and always focusing on old songs not usually played by Iron Maiden during their current concerts and tours. She was also questioned if she ever struggles with identity, wanting to do her own original material and showcasing it, and she said she doesn’t really have any issues with that, stating that she actually enjoys playing music written by a wide variety of different composers, either metal or orchestral music, and that it doesn’t stop her from writing her own music which she has done before in original bands. Also, when asked if the band has ever had to deal with any issues related to artwork, royalties, cease-and-desists from lawyers or anything like that, she said the band does everything they can to avoid that, but that they were asked to change their logo many years ago (and they did). She complemented by saying that wasn’t a big deal, and she doesn’t think the guys from Iron Maiden were even aware of it; they simply have a good team of people who help look after everything.

Of course, it’s impossible not to talk about her “relationship” with Mr. Steve Harris and his two-fingered galloping bass method. In one of her interviews, Wanda talked about how much Steve Harris and his bass have influenced her taste for music and her playing style, talking about the aforementioned story of her playing only the basic notes while her friends would play the melodies with their violins and violas in high school, but that after listening to the all-time classic Piece of Mind she fell in love with her bass guitar again and never stopped listening to the music by Iron Maiden ever since. Apart from Steve Harris, she also cites Geddy Lee, lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for Canadian Rock titans Rush, and Chris Squire, bassist and founding member of English Progressive Rock band Yes, among her influences, once again showing how much she loves the most intricate, unique and vibrant sounds anyone can extract from a bass guitar. There’s also a price to pay for having Steve Harris as her major influence, and especially for playing Iron Maiden’s music, which comes in the form of fans who believe they can offer her advice on how to perform that material beyond her considerable talent. “Every once in a while, there will be a bass player in the audience. There’s a couple songs that I’ve gotten used to playing it a certain way or maybe a different position, but they’re the same notes, but it’s not the same position (Harris) plays it in. Sometimes I’ll get that, or sometimes I’ll get like, ‘Well, Steve uses two fingers’. Well, okay. Sometimes I’ll hear that. Very rarely though,” said our talented bassist.

Wanda’s first ever Iron Maiden concert happened many years ago during the World Slavery Tour, when according to Wanda herself she didn’t drink anything to avoid having to leave to use the bathroom, as she didn’t want to miss any part of the show (well, it’s the same for me). Years later, Wanda was even able to get to know Iron Maiden in person when Michael Kenney, Steve’s long-time bass tech and the band’s onstage keyboard player, introduced the whole band to them at a concert in Irvine, California. Wanda and the other girls were obviously nervous at first for meeting their idols, but the guys were really friendly to them and down to earth, making the whole experience very pleasant. The only thing that didn’t go as planned was that they weren’t able to give them cookies that they baked specially for them, as their singer left them in her car. I’m pretty sure those cookies were delicious, but you know what was even better than that? The fact that The Iron Maidens were not only able to meet their icons in person for the first time ever, but also that the band led by Mr. Steve Harris supports them, acknowledging their undisputed talent, their passion for metal and their hard work, and that they can rest assured “Steph Harris” and the girls will always represent this more “feminine” and “delicate” side of Eddie with a lot of energy, respect and admiration. Having said that, don’t forget to check Wanda and the girls live whenever they take your city by storm, and of course, as usual… UP THE IRONS!

The Iron Maiden’s Official Facebook page
The Iron Maiden’s Official Instagram
The Iron Maiden’s Official Twitter

“As a bass player, of course, you’re going to be drawn to music more challenging, interesting and fun. I’ve always been an Iron Maiden fan since I was very young. When the band first formed everybody wanted to do something different, something more challenging. Since we all wanted something unique that nobody else was really doing, we thought Iron Maiden would be a good fit. We are all coincidentally huge Iron Maiden fans, so that made it better.” – Wanda Ortiz

Album Review – Where’s My Bible / M’N’R (2018)

Blending rock and punk influences with the violence of Death, Thrash and Black Metal, this Finnish squad is more-than-ready to mosh and roll in their first full-length release.

Blending rock and punk influences with the more violent and austere Death, Thrash and Black Metal sounds, Finnish Mosh N’ Roll squad Where’s My Bible (and yes, that’s the actual name of the band) was formed in 2014 in the city of Heinola with the intention to just have fun and play, although the thought of being taken seriously quickly kicked in, culminating with the release of their debut EP named The Beginning in early 2016. A major milestone for the band, which is reflected in the title itself, the EP led the band to participate in several concerts and festivals in the following months, including a spot in the main stage of the renowned Tuska Open Air in 2017, secured after winning the Tuska-Torstai competition hosted by the festival.

The band kicked off 2018 by starting the recording of their debut album, simply titled M’N’R (the acronym for Mosh N’ Roll), an energetic and upbeat representation of the band’s sound, being released in the fall this year. In other words, if you enjoy slamming into the circle pit and enjoying a cold beer while listening to our good old Rock N’ Roll, but with a more venomous metal twist, get ready to rock together with frontman Jussi Matilainen, guitarists Toni Hinkkala and Pasi Löfgren, bassist Jarno Laakkonen and drummer Antti Jokinen, and enjoy all those fun bruises that high-octane feast of sounds will leave on your body.

A wicked intro kicks things off, setting the tone for the thrashing party titled Speedload, led by the rip-roaring riffs by Toni and Pasi, while Antti hammers his drums like a good thrasher that he is. Also presenting elements from Hardcore and Metalcore, this is not only a true headbanger but a fantastic welcome card by the band, with highlights to the sick growling by Jussi. If you love hitting the dance floor and crushing your skull, well, the time is now, as Where’s My Bible deliver a neck-breaking and vibrant tune named Dancefloor, with Toni and Pasi getting the support of Jarno and his thunderous bass to generate a dense and electrifying ambience, living up to the legacy of 80’s Thrash Metal with a modern vibe; and Jarno ignites another classy exhibit of Mosh N’ Roll titled Absinthe, bringing elements from Punk Rock and Hardcore to their already incendiary sonority. In addition, Jussi sounds even more demented on vocals, helping to keep the music violent and melodic from start to finish.

Then the acoustic and somewhat atmospheric bridge Interlude gives us time to recover our energies before Jussi comes growling as deep as a knife would go in Meatholder, a demolishing display of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore where the guitars by Toni and Pasi exhale heaviness, rage and harmony in an amazing sample of what the band is capable of. Faster than a bullet and as heavy as hell, Me Myself and I is a sonic extravaganza where Antti doesn’t stop pounding his drums in over six minutes of unrelenting Finnish Thrash Metal, getting considerably progressive and atmospheric towards its ending. Transcendence is another song that surpasses the six-minute barrier, something not very common for Thrash Metal bands, but that keeps the energy level high until its last second, which means there’s plenty of time for you to break your neck headbanging to the vicious riffs by Toni and Pasi while Jussi continues to bark and gnarl manically. And lastly as a bonus track we have Failure, originally recorded back in 2016 and featuring Leevi Luoto (responsible for guitars and clean vocals for Finnish Metalcore act One Morning Left), remaining aggressive, raw and frantic throughout its entirety.

In the end, I guess the best way to summarize M’N’R is by taking a few interesting steps. First of all, simply follow Where’s My Bible on Facebook and listen to M’N’R on Spotify or, even better, show your support to those Finnish metallers by purchasing the album from the Inverse Records webstore, from Record Shop X, from metalmailorder.com, from iTunes or from Amazon, then fill your refrigerator up with some good quality beer, invite your friends for the night, and there you have a true Rock N’ Roll party with a beyond special Finnish Mosh N’ Roll touch. What else can you ask for in good Scandinavian music, right?

Best moments of the album: Speedload, Absinthe and Meatholder.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Inverse Records

Track listing 
1. Intro 1:04
2. Speedload 4:54
3. Dancefloor 3:35
4. Absinthe 3:48
5. Interlude 1:21
6. Meatholder 5:10
7. Me Myself and I 6:14
8. Transcendence 6:06

Bonus track
9. Failure (feat. Leevi Luoto) 5:00

Band members
Jussi Matilainen – vocals
Toni Hinkkala – guitar
Pasi Löfgren – guitar
Jarno Laakkonen – bass
Antti Jokinen – drums

Guest musician
Leevi Luoto – additional guitars and vocals on “Failure”

Album Review – Inkvisitor / Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (2018)

After suffering major lineup changes, this underground Finnish thrashing machine is back with a concept album following a neo-noir murder mystery story laced with black magic and necromancy elements.

After going through major lineup changes in the past couple of years, Jyväskylä-based Thrash Metal squad Inkvisitor is finally back with their second full-length installment, titled Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals, following up their fun and frantic full-length debut album Doctrine of Damnation, released in 2015. Part new Inkvisitor, part swansong of the old Inkvisitor, the album introduces the band’s new lead singer Markus Martinmäki and new drummer Tino Jäntti, while at the same time it also farewells their second guitarist Lauri Huttunen (not to mention their old friend and bassist Pekka Hölönen played bass on the album as a session musician).

Featuring an old school cover art by Petteri Ylitalo (Dear Death Designs), Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals is a concept album following a neo-noir murder mystery story laced with black magic and necromancy elements, with a single storyline progressing through the songs, and that’s one of the most remarkable changes from the band’s previous album, where lyrics revolved around the usual topics most Thrash Metal bands sing about such as nuclear warfare and beer. Another major change are the vocals by Markus, sounding a lot raspier than the Joey Belladonna-inspired style from their previous vocalist, adding an extra touch of aggressiveness to the entire album. In the end, although Inkvisitor are playing a different type of Thrash Metal in the new album, as aforementioned their core essence remains intact, resulting in a more-than-healthy and fun clash between their past and present musicality.

Starting in an Anthrax-like way, with both guitars exhaling metallic sounds while Tino pounds his drums mercilessly, the title-track Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals feels a lot more hardcore and pugnacious than their previous album (mainly thanks to the visceral screams by Markus, as already mentioned), and their hostile Thrash Metal extravaganza goes on in another circle pit-catalyst named Second Sacrament, with both guitarists Mikko Saviranta and Jesse Kämäräinen (as well as the departing Lauri) sounding infernal with their riffs, not to mention how bestial Tino is once again behind his drums. More modern and heavier than its predecessors and featuring the only  guest  musicians of the album  on  lead  guitars  (Sebastian Frigren and Kasper Koutonen, of  Nuclear  Omnicide  and  Devenial  Verdict), A Shadow Suspended by Dust brings massive, rumbling bass sounds which set the perfect stage for Markus and his demented growls, inspiring us to crack our necks in half headbanging.

Then speeding up their pace and mixing elements from traditional Hard Rock, Punk Rock and Rock N’  Roll with their frantic Thrash Metal, Inkvisitor deliver a full-bodied thrashing extravaganza named The Confession, with highlights to the incendiary performances by Markus and Tino. Moreover, it’s quite impossible to stand still to such high level of electricity and insanity, which can also be said about Mindslaver, another Anthrax-inspired tune with classic guitar riffs and headbanging beats, presenting lyrics about how our society has failed and how we need to start everything over (“Mankind has failed, brotherhood has been lost / The prison of the mind / And the cancer of your soul / Complete the ritual, sacrifice your family / Through death you ́ll be born again / Reclaim your throne”). In Necromancy Cascade, a slower but still very heavy and impactful composition, Markus delivers deeper, more introspective vocals while the energy in the music remains at a decent level (it never really takes off, though, falling flat after a while); whereas Paradigm Shift is a berserk, demented and totally awesome hymn by Inkvisitor showcasing all elements we love in old school Thrash Metal, with the demolishing drumming by Tino dictating the rhythm while the stringed trio Mikko, Jesse and Pekka sounds absolutely thunderous with their riffs, solos and punches.

Violence keeps flowing from all instruments in the belligerent War is Path to Victory, a song tailored for slamming into the pit with your friends while Markus screams its lyrics right in your face (“What do I think I know ́bout war? / Spare a life hand over your own / Violence consists of certainty / That war is a path to victory”), before the imposing and ruthless The Revenant (Redeemer) closes the regular version of the album, bringing to our avid ears menacing drums and bass lines, soulful riffs and solos, and the most demonic vocal lines of the entire album. And last but not least, as a bonus track for the ones who buy the album either in CD or digital (and you also get an instrumental version of the whole album and a 12-page booklet with liner notes) we have Quagmire Twilight (Deleted Scene), Inkvisitor’s darkest creation, a doom-ish tune with obscure vocal lines and piercing bass lines, with that dark and heavy aura going on until the song’s devilish ending.

As aforementioned, this new version of Inkvisitor is just as electrifying and heavy as their previous release, sounding more unfriendly (in a good way) due to their new vocal approach, and if you like what the band has to offer in this new phase you can purchase Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (available for a full listen on Spotify) from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Record Shop X, or from iTunes, and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on YouTube for more of their music, news, tour dates and all things Inkvisitor. Let’s hope that Inkvisitor’s days of major lineup changes are over and that they can now focus on touring and writing more Thrash Metal, because based on what they’re offering us all in Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals the band is on a beyond promising (and thrashing) path to success.

Best moments of the album: The Confession, Mindslaver and Paradigm Shift.

Worst moments of the album: Necromancy Cascade.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals 3:31
2. Second Sacrament 3:24
3. A Shadow Suspended by Dust 5:14
4. The Confession 3:39
5. Mindslaver 3:42
6. Necromancy Cascade 5:49
7. Paradigm Shift 4:38
8. War is Path to Victory 4:46
9. The Revenant (Redeemer) 5:45

Bonus track
10. Quagmire Twilight (Deleted Scene) 5:29

Band members
Markus Martinmäki – vocals
Mikko Saviranta – guitar
Jesse Kämäräinen – guitar
Sakari Soisalo – bass
Tino Jäntti – drums

Guest musicians
Lauri Huttunen – second rhythm guitar & lead guitar on “Second Sacrament”
Sebastian Frigren & Kappe Koutonen – lead guitars on “A Shadow Suspended by Dust”
Pekka Hölönen – bass (recording)
Kalle Raijonkari & Sampo Riikkilä – additional gang vocals

Album Review – The Rocket Dolls / DeadHead (2018)

A fresh, contemporary collection of music that combines the best bits of heavy rock, grunge, punk, and pop smart sensibilities, symbolizing a reflection on personal demons and modern day society.

Brighton, England-based Heavy Rock trio The Rocket Dolls are ready to set fire to the scene with their brand new studio album DeadHead, featuring just the right amount of melody with straight up hook laden driven riffs combined with curveballs when you least expect them, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Alice In Chains, Foo Fighters and Kings X, among many other renowned rock bands. Recorded at London’s award winning British Grove Studios (David Gilmour, Razorlight, Mark Knopfler), and featuring a stylish arwork by Sam Hayles at DOSEprod (Earthtone 9, Pitchshifter, Jayce Lewis), DeadHead offers the listener a fresh, contemporary collection of music that combines the best bits of heavy rock, grunge, punk, and pop smart sensibilities, all meticulously put together by the band’s unstoppable trio.

Lead singer and guitarist Nikki Smash had a few words to say about the album art and how it connects to the music. “Sam captured the essence of what our new album is about. It’s a reflection on personal demons and modern day society; the split in the wolf (half animal/half machine) symbolizes the transformation between good to bad and bad to good. It demonstrates not just the struggle of depression and anxiety that inflicts itself upon our society, but also the wolf in motion should be seen as a symbol of hope and the need to fight and overcome what’s wrong in our world.” And you better get ready to rock with this wolf pack hailing from the UK, as they’re not kidding when they say DeadHead is their strongest collection of music to date.

Crushing their instruments from the very first second as if they were the Incredible Hulk of Hard Rock the trio offers us None Of This Is Right, a song about recovering from being ill and being addicted to prescription painkillers presenting a solid instrumental with rumbling bass lines and potent beats, all led by the slashing riffs by Nikki. Then we have She’s Starting Something Now, where Nikki discusses about domestic violence against women and their sweet revenge, showcasing heavier-than-usual riffs and beats (and even with all that heaviness this song can still be played on any radio station), and the title-track DeadHead, narrating Nikki’s battles with depression, drugs and prescription painkillers. Furthermore, although the song does have a darker feel when compared to its predecessors, it’s still very vibrant, with drummer Benji Knopfler showing he’s not only precise with his drums, but he also knows how to properly pound them.

A lot smoother and more melodic, She Said is a radio-friendly composition where Nikki fires some interesting semi-acoustic guitar lines while bassist Joe Constable makes sure the atmosphere remains as dense as possible; whereas The Last Thing On My Mind is an introspective heavy ballad by the trio displaying a great vocal performance by Nikki, while the song’s background orchestral elements bring a sense of melancholy to the overall result. Nikki said that Stop The Dead Men Crying is the hardest song for him to sing and play due to its content and meaning, and the final result couldn’t sound more obscure, including even hints of old school Doom Metal, with his henchmen Joe and Benji providing him a fantastic support with their thunderous instruments. And in Drowning, a somber tune about suicidal thoughts (which explains its gentle but at the same time piercing sonority), you can sense that lancinating feeling flowing from both Nikki’s clean vocals and his enraged screams.

Putting the pedal to the metal The Rocket Dolls fire the thrilling and harmonious The Desperate, inspired by modern-day Punk Rock and led by the rhythmic beats by Benji, while Nikki fires what are probably his best riffs of the whole album. Following that explosive tune, his battle with mental health issues goes on in the also dark and pensive Strain, where Benji shows no mercy for his drum kit by smashing it like there’s no tomorrow (and the same can be said about Joe, who produces an ominous sound with his bass). In Rusty Bones, Nikki once again talks about taking painkillers for his osteoarthritis knee pain, and all the drinking and abusing that can sometimes make everything feel sluggish and slow, with the music being highly inspired by Stoner Rock and Metal, therefore bringing a neck-breaking riff and tons of agony and pain to our minds; and the band’s last blast of fury comes in the form of another thunderous Stoner Metal-like tune titled Trigger, where Joe doesn’t get tired of crushing his strings. It’s a very dense and bold composition, and needless to say a fantastic closing act for such personal album for the band’s talented frontman.

In a nutshell, I believe Nikki more than succeeded in turning all his personal demons and struggles with drug and alcohol abuse into high-quality rock music, pointing to a great direction for The Rocket Dolls wolf pack to keep following with their future albums. If you want to know more about the band and about how music has helped Nikki overcome all his fears and problems, go visit their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and don’t forget to grab your copy of DeadHead from the band’s own Big Cartel page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from Cargo Records. It’s always a pleasure to see how rock and heavy music can help a normal person like Nikki beat such delicate topics like drug and alcohol addiction and abuse, and an album like DeadHead only confirms that while Rock N’ Roll exists, nobody is alone in this world.

Best moments of the album: None Of This Is Right, The Desperate and Trigger.

Worst moments of the album: She Said.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1 .None Of This Is Right 3:54
2. She’s Starting Something Now 3:35
3. DeadHead 4:35
4. She Said 2:58
5. The Last Thing On My Mind 3:51
6. Stop The Dead Men Crying 4:29
7. Drowning 4:25
8. The Desperate 4:05
9. Strain 4:45
10. Rusty Bones 4:04
11. Trigger 3:43

Band members
Nikki Smash – vocals & guitar
Benji Knopfler – drums & backing vocals
Joe Constable – bass & backing vocals

Album Review – 5 Star Grave / The Red Room (2017)

The six pricks from Hell are back in town, hic sunt the motherfuckers.

This is one of those bands that, as soon as you listen to their flammable music for the very first time, you become addicted to their electricity and rebellious attitude, especially if you’re already a huge fan of the sound by bands like the Misfits, Social Distortion, the Ramones, Minot Threat and so on, but with a heavier and more melodic approach. I’m talking about Italian Melodic Death Metal six-piece wolf pack 5 Star Grave, who have just released a Rock N’ Roll party-catalyst entitled The Red Room, an album that will surely put you to dance, bang your head, slam into the pit, drink a few beers and do everything else we love so much in heavy music. In other words, the six pricks from Hell are back in town, hic sunt the motherfuckers, and there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from them.

Formed in 2005 in Cuneo, a city and comune in Piedmont, Northern Italy, under the name Ground Zero, changing to 5 Star Grave in 2007, the band already released in their decade of existence the full-length albums Corpse Breed Syndrome, in 2008, and Drugstore Hell, in 2012, as well as a single with a cover version for one of the biggest hits by the Ramones, the classic Pet Sematary, before releasing The Red Room now in 2017. Bringing forth a weird and fun combination of several styles like traditional Heavy Metal and Punk Rock with industrial atmospheres, the band comprised of frontman Claudio Ravinale (who’s also the lead singer for Death Metal act Disarmonia Mundi and Industrial Metal outfit The Silverblack), bassist Andrea Minolfi, guitarists Thierry Bertone and Alessandro Blengino, keyboardist Hervè De Zulian and drummer Domenico Fazzari aims at charging the listener with their relentless hardcore/horror punk-influenced metal highly inspired by the golden years of 80’s metal and shock rock, which they more than achieve with The Red Room.

Wicked noises are suddenly joined by the slashing riffs by Thierry and Alessandro in the opening track, beautifully titled Hic Sunt The Motherfuckers, with Hervè and his keys giving it a futuristic aura. Moreover, this amazing tune brings forward the two main characteristics of Melodic Death Metal, those being aggressiveness and harmony, helping the band in breaking down the walls in fantastic fashion. Following that superb start we have the also whimsical and modern Eat You Alive, where Claudio screams like a maniac supported by the potent backing vocals by Andrea, not to mention the song’s fiery guitar solos and catchy chorus; and Once Upon A Time, with Claudio sounding even more demented on vocals, enhancing the song’s impact while Domenico smashes his drums with tons of dexterity, being highly recommended for admirers of modern and alternative music.

The Ballad Of The Vampire is not a ballad at all, but an ode to the fusion of Heavy Metal, Punk Rock and Hardcore blasted by bands like the Misfits, a fast-paced and electrifying hymn showcasing great performances by Claudio and Domenico that will set their live concerts on fire without a shadow of a doubt, while in Alice the keys by Hervè make it sound more melodic and consequently less violent than the other tunes, but still a heavier-than-usual version of punk music perfect for an insane rockin’ party with its guitars burning our ears nonstop. And adding progressiveness to their high-octane Rock N’ Roll sonority, 5 Star Grave offer us Through The Eyes Of The Monster, where Thierry and Alessandro steal the spotlight with their sick riffs while Hervè brings a touch of lunacy with his synths. Put differently, it’s quite impossible to stand still to this explosion of modern metal music.

And those guys definitely know how to blend the music by the Misfits with modern Metalcore like what can be seen in He Never Died, which means you should start banging your head and screaming together with the band as the party doesn’t have a time to end. In Hell On Heels, a mid-tempo rockin’ tune with hints of Southern Rock, we have an acoustic intro as a variation to their trademark rowdy sounding, and at this point of the album you’ll realize 5 Star Grave cannot craft bad music; whereas For Better Or Worse sounds like the soundtrack to a demented circus act, again inspired by old school punk and metal. In addition, the strident sound of guitars increases the song’s temperature quite a bit, with Domenico taking the lead with his spot-on beats. And before all is said and done we have a semi-ballad entitled There Is No Heaven, which despite presenting their rumbling sounds and growls is slightly below the rest of the album in terms of creativity. Actually, to be fair I wouldn’t consider that a problem at all, as the other songs of the album are way too awesome.

In a nutshell, grab your leather jacket, your fighting boots, make sure the beer is crisp and cold, put on your warrior makeup or mask, and join the uncontrollable party held by 5 Star Grave in The Red Room by following them on Facebook, by listening to their music on YouTube, SoundCloud and Spotify, and by purchasing this excellent album of modern metal music on BandCamp, on iTunes or on Amazon. And after having The Red Room on your hands, simply hit play and get the party started, motherfuckers.

Best moments of the album: Hic Sunt The Motherfuckers, The Ballad Of The Vampire and Through The Eyes Of The Monster.

Worst moments of the album: There Is No Heaven.

Released in 2017 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Hic Sunt The Motherfuckers 4:14
2. Eat You Alive 4:17
3. Once Upon A Time 3:58
4. The Ballad Of The Vampire 1:43
5. Alice 4:03
6. Through The Eyes Of The Monster 3:39
7. He Never Died 3:00
8. Hell On Heels 4:16
9. For Better Or Worse 4:36
10. There Is No Heaven 4:20

Band members
Claudio Ravinale – vocals
Andrea Minolfi – bass, vocals
Thierry Bertone – guitars
Alessandro Blengino – guitars
Hervè De Zulian – synth
Domenico Fazzari – drums

Album Review – Graveyard Strippers / Crawling (2017)

This creepy Canadian quartet brings to you the perfect soundtrack to your next party, an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal with elements from rock, pop and electronic music.

A phoenix reborn from its ashes. That’s how Canadian Industrial Metal critters Graveyard Strippers call themselves, being born in Montreal, Quebec in 2013 with guitarist Riff (Projekt F), vocalist Holy Decay (Gotherfall, Magnum Stallion) and bassist Carl Puzzle (Sade Slavey). Since their creation, Graveyard Strippers recorded three excellent EP’s, those being Burn My Soul in 2013, Free The Monsters in 2015, which was by the way when the band recruited Dany Burton (Projekt F) as their new permanent drummer, and Burn The Monsters in 2016, culminating with the release of their first ever full-length spawn, the idiosyncratic and rousing Crawling, now in 2017.

The music by Graveyard Strippers might be considered an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal, spiced up by hints of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and even electronic and pop music. And let me tell you that those four rockers do it almost to perfection, sounding at the same time sexy and gruesome, gentle and aggressive, straightforward and progressive. You’ll notice that each one of the twelve songs featured in Crawling, which by the way portrays a fantastic artwork by renowned Canadian illustrator Felix LaFlamme, are independent from each other, presenting a unique sonority, but that they need each other for the whole album to make sense to your ears. Well, as you can see it’s not an easy task to summarize the work by Graveyard Strippers in just a few lines, and that’s why I recommend you hit play and enjoy their industrialized and sensual sounds in your own way.

The eerie and dark intro Filth invites us to the demented world ruled by Graveyard Strippers, before an industrial and metallic feast begins in full force with Broken, a song highly recommended for fans of Rammstein and Ministry where Holy Decay bursts his lungs by screaming in an insane and rabid way. After that frantic hurricane of industrialized sounds the bands offers us a more melodic tune titled Pretty, blending Gothic and Industrial Rock with elements from Neue Deutsche Härte. Moreover, Riff lives up to his monicker by delivering truly catchy riffs, while Dany keeps the song’s pace and speed at a very pleasant level with his precise beats. And then we have the title-track Crawling, which begins in a dark 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal-inspired way, gradually evolving into an imposing musicality led by the deep and lunatic vocals by Holy Decay, remaining vibrant until its climatic ending.

Featuring the seductive Natasha Nebula as guest vocalist, Freak Show sounds a lot more mechanized and sexier than its predecessors, presenting the darkest and most depraved form of Industrial Metal you can think of. In addition to that, Riff and Dany do a great job with their samples and electronic sounds, turning it into the perfect soundtrack for a real-life freak show. And if you think that after such amazing song you’ll be free from Natasha’s devilish voice, you’re absolutely wrong, as she’s back with the band in Deadsex, an ominous blast of Neue Deutsche Härte with Gothic Rock where the deranged screams by Holy Decay create a gripping paradox with the smoother but still diabolical moans by Natasha, not to mention the song’s first-class official video which perfectly epitomizes what Graveyard Strippers are all about. The “piercing assembly line from hell” titled Apocalypse Now brings forward another eccentric intro that morphs into a fantastic Industrial Metal extravaganza, showcasing rabid growls mixed with heavy-as-hell riffs and tons of wicked elements in the background in what sounds as a hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Ministry; whereas their electronic vein arises stronger than ever in Walking Dead thanks to the excellent job done by Riff and Dany once again, while Carl Puzzle adds his share of heaviness to the song with his sick bass lines, keeping the album at a high level of eccentricity.

Savior is another modern Industrial Metal composition led by the somber vocals by Holy Decay, despite not feeling as crushing and vibrant as the rest of the album, sounding a bit repetitive at times. On the other hand, Krash This Up is one of the weirdest and most fun creations by this talented quartet that should work really well if played live. Dany is simply amazing with his beats, being flawlessly accompanied by the rest of the band during the song’s two minutes of insanity. Then in King Me the band gives a lesson in how to blend Industrial Metal with Punk Rock, offering the listener a neck-breaking, electrified tune where Riff steals the show with his sensational guitar lines. Needless to say, this is another serious candidate to be part of their live performances. And lastly, madness takes control of the band in the closing tune of the album, named Serial Killer, where symphonic elements from Gothic Metal are added to create an even crazier atmosphere. Furthermore, Holy Decay sounds like a demonic entity with his Stygian gnarls, while Riff and Carl keep bringing thunder to the musicality in this top-notch ending to such electrified album.

The somber and bewitching realm of Graveyard Strippers can be further explored through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can listen to and buy Crawling on Spotify, at their own BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon or at the Onkyo Music webstore. Let’s say that, if you were desperately looking for the best and darkest soundtrack to your next Halloween, Gothic, Dark Electro or any other type of party not recommended for the ordinary person, I believe your hunt is finally over, as Graveyard Strippers are more than ready to put you and your guests into a lustful and mechanized trance with the high-end music found in Crawling.

Best moments of the album: Broken, Freak Show, Apocalypse Now and Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: Savior.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Filth 1:04
2. Broken 3:09
3. Pretty 3:40
4. Crawling 4:08
5. Freak Show (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:29
6. Deadsex (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:51
7. Apocalypse Now 4:07
8. Walking Dead 3:50
9. Savior 4:02
10. Krash This Up 2:07
11. King Me 2:46
12. Serial Killer 4:48

Band members
Holy Decay – vocals
Riff – guitars, programming, backing vocals
Carl Puzzle – bass, backing vocals
Dany Burton – drums, programming, backing vocals

Guest musician
Natasha Nebula – female vocals on “Freak Show” and “Deadsex”

Concert Review – Blaze Bayley (The Rockpile, Toronto, ON, 08/19/2017)

A journey through the past, present and future in the career of the unstoppable Blaze Bayley in the form of first-class Heavy Metal for his diehard fans in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Cadillac Blood

I’ll never understand why people who call themselves diehard metalheads would miss a chance to attend a top-notch Heavy Metal concert like what we had this Saturday at the really nice venue The Rockpile, which despite being usually referred as located in Toronto, technically speaking it’s in Etobicoke, an administrative district and former city that makes up the western part of the city of Toronto, around 18km from downtown. The weather was perfect, the beer was nice and cold, the food was great and all prices were very, very reasonable (including the ticket price). And those so-called fans of heavy music keep complaining on Facebook, Twitter etc. that metal doesn’t have the proper support and all those shenanigans. How about instead of just typing, you get up from that couch, head to a place like The Rockpile and support underground metal?

If you do that, perhaps you’ll face an electrifying band like the young and restless thrashers from CADILLAC BLOOD, a completely independent act from Keswick, Ontario, located 70km north of Toronto. Blending elements from Thrash Metal, Punk Rock and Rock N’ Roll in their music, and being clearly inspired by bands such as Volbeat (by the way, the band’s name comes from Volbeat’s classic album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood if you haven’t noticed yet), Metallica, Motörhead and Anthrax, the quartet comprised of Luke Morrell on vocals, Tyler Morrell on guitar, Sean Murphy on bass and Dean Fraser on drums delivered an excellent warmup to the fans that were there for Blaze Bayley, being extremely professional and excited from start to finish, in special Luke who didn’t stop jumping and headbanging for a single second while singing at the same time. Unfortunately I don’t have their full setlist, but you can go to their BandCamp page and check out songs like Crow’s Nest and Devil’s Brew, both played by the band on Saturday.

Band members
Luke Morrell – vocals
Tyler Morrell – guitar
Sean Murphy – bass
Dean Fraser – drums

BLAZE BAYLEY

When it was time for the unstoppable BLAZE BAYLEY to hit the stage with his Endure and Survive World Tour 2017, at around 10:30pm, The Rockpile was not even half full, maybe due to lack of better promotion or because the pub was a bit far for fans who rely on public transportation to move around, but I think those are just excuses for our society’s growing laziness to do anything that’s not online. Blaze deserved a much bigger crowd (he even joked it was his fault, as he asked that only true metalheads attended his concert), as he’s been doing superior music being totally independent, with very little support from anyone but himself and his bandmates. His music is powerful and vibrant, his lyrics are poetic and meaningful, and his energy on stage is simply fantastic. What else do you need in a metal concert?

Anyway, the brave fans who were at The Rockpile had the absolute pleasure of witnessing an amazing performance by Blaze and his amazing band formed by the talented Chris Appleton on guitars and backing vocals, Karl Schramm on bass and backing vocals, and Martin McNee on drums, who are not only the guys who recorded the first two parts of the kick-ass Infinite Entanglement trilogy with Blaze, the 2016 album Infinite Entanglement and the 2017 follow-up Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II), but who are also three quarters of British Heavy Metal act Absolva, a great underground band highly recommended for lovers of old school metal music.

When Blaze was in Toronto for the last time, at the now defunct Hard Rock Café in 2014, he was supported by a Canadian Iron Maiden cover group named Maiden Quebec, and although they were a very good band, Blaze’s performance was somewhat hampered by their lack of chemistry. Fortunately for the fans at The Rockpile this Saturday, Blaze and the guys from Absolva were in perfect sync, a reflection of their years working together, delivering to the crowd a top-notch setlist encompassing the best of Blaze’s past, present, and even future (if you think of Infinite Entanglement as an evolving project), playing simply the best songs from Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden and his unparalleled solo career. From the very first notes of the inspiring Endure and Survive, to the speed and violence of Blood, Dark Energy 256 and Man on the Edge (see his intro video to this all-time classic HERE), and the epicness of The Clansman, their performance was flawless.

As I mentioned before, Blaze is a metal poet, and there was always a reason for a song to be inserted in his setlist, always bringing a powerful message to the fans who were singing along all lyrics with Blaze. For instance, his speech about how we all fail and how we all must stand up from our failures and fight our fears again and again in Fight Back, from his latest album, only shows how much he loves what he does and how much he’s passionate about Heavy Metal, as well as how he said us fans are his “home” in the emotional Calling You Home. Of course there was also room for lighter topics, like when he explained the origins of Wolfsbane and how we all would feel “sexier” after screaming the words “man hunt” during Wolfsbane’s biggest hit Man Hunt. By the way, the “duel” between Blaze and the rest of the band during this song was awesome, with Chris and Karl stealing the show with their refined techniques. Blaze made sure he acknowledged the undeniable talent of Chris not only as a guitarist, but also as a songwriter and producer, something we can easily see through his work with both Absolva and Blaze Bayley.

After the last song of the setlist, A Thousand Years (my favorite track from Infinite Entanglement), Blaze and the guys stayed at the venue for a free autograph and photo session with their fans, not charging a single penny as most band do nowadays with their “meet & greet experiences”, as a sign of his respect and admiration for us, supporters of independent music. All band members were very nice and courteous with everyone, talking about their tour across Canada and the US, their plans for the future and other topics. And all true metal fans who attended the concert on Saturday went back home with a huge smile on their faces, something that happens every single time you see a concert by the metal warrior Blaze Bayley. As simple as that.

Setlist
Endure and Survive
Escape Velocity
Futureal
Blood
Silicon Messiah
Fight Back
Virus
Calling You Home
Stare at the Sun
The Clansman
Man Hunt
Man on the Edge
Dark Energy 256
Lord of the Flies
A Thousand Years

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums

Album Review – Next Bullet / Zero (2017)

Are you ready to thrash to the debut album by a trio of Italian insurgents who take no prisoners in their quest for heavy music?

In case you don’t know what Thrashcore means, let me do a quick introduction to you of this electrifying style of heavy music. Thrashcore, also known as Fastcore, is a fast-tempo subgenre of Hardcore Punk that emerged in the early 1980’s, being often less dissonant and metallic than Grindcore, but still making good usage of blast beats. Thrashcore songs are usually short in duration, with the lyrics typically emphasizing youthful uprising or anti-militarism, being aligned with the skateboarder subculture in many ways. Having said that, are you ready to thrash to Zero, the debut album by a trio of Italian Thrashcore insurgents who together go by the name of Next Bullet?

Formed in 2016 in northeast Italy by members of Groove Metal act Overblood and Deathcore group Awake The Secrets, the trio comprised of Marc1 on vocals, Paske on guitar and bass, and Tom KT on drums takes no prisoners in their quest for heavy music, delivering ten ruthless compositions that exhale rebelliousness with the hardcore attitude of Grindcore, but also presenting the more melodious lines of Metalcore. Zero is already a pretty good album by itself, but if you take into account the fact that it’s just their debut release, I wonder how far those Italian metallers can go in the world of underground heavy music with this new endeavor.

Next Bullet, the track that carries the name of the band, is a precise depiction of what this power trio stands for, locked and loaded with pure heaviness and a hardcore attitude, where Marc1 begins explaining their “mission” through his deep growls while Tom KT sounds like a machine gun on drums. Following that intense start, we have All I Have Earned, a faster and more melodic Thrashcore song with elements from traditional Thrash Metal and Punk Rock, with Marc1 continuing his vocal attack and Paske delivering metallic, sharp riffs perfect for banging our heads nonstop; and Not Allow Them, where the trio keeps hitting us with their hardcore sounds. Moreover, pay attention to the drumming by Tom KT as it’s an interesting blend of the traditional Thrash Metal played by Exodus with the demented beats by old school Punk Rock drummers.

In Antiparasitic they once again unite the aggressiveness of American Hardcore with the melody found in European metal music, resulting in one of my favorite tracks of the album due to its high level of electricity, with all three members being in total sync generating a truly belligerent sonority; whereas in Unrelenting Will, another solid composition that showcases all the band’s anger and defiance, the musicality is led by the guitar lines by Paske while Marc1 bursts his lungs with his sick screams. After an eerie bridge named 2015: Mission Accomplished, we face more of the destructive music by Next Bullet titled Born On The Wrong Side, a mid-tempo, dark composition showing a more visceral side of the band. Not only that, Paske and Tom KT make a great duo with their heavy-as-hell riffs and demonic beats, therefore increasing the song’s punch and taste.

As I hate hashtags from the bottom of my heart, I have to say the furious The New Hashtag puts a smile on my face with its less than two minutes of sheer craziness, in a well-balanced fusion of Thrash Metal, Hardcore and Punk Rock. And bringing a lot of groove to their sonority, Kill The Maniac Pedophile is another short and sweet creation by Next Bullet that overflows rage despite being a bit bland, with its the last part getting a lot more dynamic (which unfortunately doesn’t last as long as it should), before the supersonic Remember! concludes the album in great fashion. The sound of the guitar by Paske is truly exciting, as if he is cutting our flesh with his riffs mercilessly, while Tom KT continues to pound his drums manically and Marc1 gets more and more insane on vocals.

Now that you have a pretty good understanding of what Thrashcore stands for and its purpose in heavy music, you should definitely give a try to Next Bullet and their berserk music by visiting their Facebook page and purchasing your copy of Zero at their BandCamp page. As mentioned before, Zero is a beyond solid debut by this angry power trio, having all the necessary qualities to become a reference in underground Thrashcore and a great source of energy for the band to keep moving forward in their career.

Best moments of the album: Next Bullet, All I Have Earned and Antiparasitic.

Worst moments of the album: Kill The Maniac Pedophile.

Released in 2017 KT Records

Track listing
1. Next Bullet 3:20
2. All I Have Earned 3:20
3. Not Allow Them 2:00
4. Antiparasitic 2:18
5. Unrelenting Will 3:04
6. 2015: Mission Accomplished 0:38
7. Born On The Wrong Side 2:38
8. The New Hashtag 1:30
9. Kill The Maniac Pedophile 1:34
10. Remember! 2:40

Band members
Marc1 – vocals
Paske – guitar, bass
Tom KT – drums