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!

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“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

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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

Interview – Dimitri (Primal Age)

Do you like Metalcore? If your answer is yes, you’ll certainly enjoy this exclusive interview with Dimitri, bassist for longstanding French act Primal Age, talking about their brand new EP A Silent Wound, their commitment to nature and animal rights, how much they love the unparalleled riffs by Slayer’s deceased guitar hero Jeff Hanneman, and more.

Dimitri (Primal Age)

The Headbanging Moose: Let’s start with an introduction of the band. Although Primal Age have been on the road since 1993, there are many people who still don’t know your music. Who are Primal Age? Can you tell us more about the history of the band and your main goals in music?

Dimitri (Primal Age): We are 5 guys (Didier on vocals, Flo and Ben on guitars, Mehdi on drums, and I, Dimitri on bass). We started as one of the very first European bands mixing hardcore and metal, as Arkangel, Length of Time or Kickback. We’re known for our commitment in favor of nature and animals.

THM: Your brand new EP A Silent Wound might be short in duration, with only around 15 minutes of music, but the amount of energy and violence flowing from each one of its four tracks is simply amazing. Why did you decide to record an EP instead of a full-length album this time, and how did you select the songs that would be included in it?

Dimitri: It was a special period because of a change in our line-up. Flo and Ben have replaced Johann who had to leave the band for familial reasons. So our project with this line up was an EP to give time for the new guys. It is not obvious to be incorporated to an old band.

THM: You’re a band that has always discussed delicate and controversial topics in each one of your lyrics, such as animal rights, vegetarianism and the overconsumption of mass. For instance, my favorite song of the EP, the opening track The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization, is an acid critic to our decaying health system with a strong focus on the wrongful actions taken by the W.H.O. in the past few decades. What details can you tell us about the process to compose this specific song? What inspires you to write music, and what do your fans and critics say about the themes proposed in your lyrics?

Dimitri: The fans… some are here just for the music, and some others pay a particular attention for the topics. It’s a kind of positive revolt to compose some music with what revolts me, instead of burning my neighbor’s car ))

THM: Another top moment of the EP in my opinion is your humble tribute to the deceased Jeff Hanneman, the iconic and revolutionary guitarist of Thrash Metal titans Slayer, titled To Jeff. How did you come up with the idea of recording this excellent tribute to one of the biggest guitarist in the history of heavy music, and how did you choose which songs from Slayer would be featured in the medley? Also, did you get any feedback from any of the guys from Slayer or anyone connected to Jeff about the song?

Dimitri: As you say, Jeff was a legend who has composed some of the most famous riffs of metal music. We grew up with Slayer and we miss this guy so much, so we decided to refresh people’s minds with some of the most legendary riffs which are here to stay.

Album Review – Primal Age / A Silent Wound EP (2017)

THM: You play a solid and entertaining fusion of Thrash Metal, Hardcore and Punk Rock, which some people like to label as Metalcore. Apart from bands like Slayer, Napalm Death and Agnostic Front, what other bands and artists influenced Primal Age to become the band you’re today? And do you listen to anything outside Heavy Metal and Punk Rock? If so, which non-metal artists are part of your playlist?

Dimitri: We grew up with bands like Earth Crisis, Sepultura, Pantera, Minor Threat, Venom, Youth Of Today, Hatebreed… there are so many. Personally I’m a fan of Oi music, Cock Sparer, The Business or Last Resort are some of the bands in my playlist. But it’s only mine, each one is different and we have our own choices.

THM: A Silent Wound features a few guest vocalists that end up adding an extra touch of adrenaline to the overall result of the EP, those being Felipe Chehuan (Confronto), Julien Truchan (Benighted) and Koba (Loyal To The Grave). What’s your relationship with those musicians and their respective bands, and how did the invitations happen for them to be part of your album?

Dimitri: Benighted is a French band. We like these great guys with whom we played some shows. Felipe from Confronto is an old acquaintance we have so much respect for and we were grateful to play with Confronto in Brazil. Loyal to the Grave is a Japanese legendary band, and it was a special moment for us to share the stage with them in Japan. We’re happy to have these guys on our EP to remind us some great moments as musicians.

THM: Primal Age have already played in renowned festivals such as Free Edge Fest, Hellfest and Sonisphere, but of course as an underground heavy band you’re used to play in much smaller places like local pubs and theaters. Do you prefer playing in big festivals or at small venues? What do you feel when you’re playing in front of thousands of people as compared to a reduced crowd? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each one in your opinion?

Dimitri: We like both of these conditions. The only thing we have in mind is to give our energy to the crowd through our music, it doesn’t matter if there are 100 or 3,000 people.

THM: How has the reaction of your fans to the new songs from A Silent Wound been in your current concerts? And what are the band’s future plans in regards to touring inside and outside France, and also to releasing new material?

Dimitri: We have had a very good feedback. The new pieces are in accordance with our musical identity. We’re happy to defend this new EP on stage. We have plans in France and far from home, so, we feel lucky ))

THM: I might be wrong, but I think you have never recorded a song in your mother tongue French. Is there a specific reason for that? Are you planning on recording anything in French for your local fans, as for example a French version of one of your existing albums?

Dimitri: You’re right. I very love French lyrics, but not for what we play. English seems to be the best language for that kind of music. The other reason is to speak to everybody and to have the opportunity to play worldwide.

Primal Age

THM: What’s the current state of the metal and punk scene in France? Do you think it’s better than when the band started, or is it getting more and more difficult for new French bands to succeed in music nowadays? Which new French bands do you recommend to our readers?

Dimitri: France has never been the place to be for this music. Most of people are listening to the mainstream music you hear on TV or radio and don’t have a real culture, they just consume it, what is sad. The reputation is rather bad, but you can find some great bands. There are several great bands here in Normandy like Surounded by Sins, Elephants, Explicit Silence… so many.

THM: As you know we have a huge French-speaking community here in Canada, in the province of Quebec, where several amazing metal and punk bands are born every year. Do you know anything about the Canadian and the Quebec heavy music scene, and if so, what are your favorite bands from Canada and/or Quebec?

Dimitri: We really appreciate bands like Comeback Kids, or the first albums of Voivod we listened to when we were young. We saw them in Paris in 87 when they came for their first tour with Kreator. We also love Get the Shot, as well as Obey The Brave (with whom we played at the Bloodaxe Festival in Tokyo, Japan, in 2013).

THM: Merci beaucoup pour votre temps et votre disponibilité. Please feel free to send a final message to your fans and to the readers of The Headbanging Moose here in Canada and all over the world.

Dimitri: Thanks for the interest about the band, we really appreciate it. Maybe one day we’ll see you guys on the road.

Links
Primal Age Official Website | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | ReverbNation | Big Cartel

Album Review – Primal Age / A Silent Wound EP (2017)

One of the most influential bands in the history of underground French Metalcore brings forth four striking new songs, blending the best of Heavy Metal and Hardcore in a fresh, vibrant and honest way.

Delivering a huge amount of energy, power and passion for heavy music to their fans since 1993, always exploring important topics such as the defense of the animal rights, vegetarianism, ecology and the denunciation of the overconsumption of mass, French Metalcore act Primal Age marked the 90’s by being among the first European bands to mix Heavy Metal and Hardcore into their music, gaining a lot of positive feedback from fans of both styles. That amazing reaction from the audience opened the doors for the band to spread their music globally, sharing the stage with renowned acts like Napalm Death, Caliban, Madball, Hatebreed and Agnostic Front, as well as playing many festivals such as Free Edge Fest, Hellfest and Sonisphere and performing in distant lands like Brazil and Japan through the years.

Hailing from Évreux, a commune in Haute Normandie in northern France, Primal Age released their debut EP The Light to Purify in 1999, followed by the full-length albums A Hell Romance in 2007 and The Gearwheels of Time in 2010, while the year of 2014 saw the birth of a split album with French Metalcore band Absone named My Legacy / Eternal Struggle – The Best of 17 Years XVX 90’s Metalcore (And Still Going Strong). Now in 2017, they’re back in full force with a brand new EP titled A Silent Wound, featuring a stylish artwork by Visual Injuries and four original songs that perfectly represent their core essence and their undisputed allegiance to classic European Metalcore.

The opening track, nicely entitled The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization, is a frantic Hardcore chant boosted by hints of Death and Thrash Metal (and therefore an amazing choice for slamming into the pit) where drummer Mehdi Abou is simply insane behind his drums, while the sick growls by lead singer Didier are in total sync with the demonic strings by Benoit, Florian and Dimitri. Following that high-octane start, we have the title-track A Silent Wound, featuring Felipe Chehuan from Brazilian Deathcore band Confronto, another Punk Rock and Thrash Metal onslaught flawlessly blasted by Primal Age. Furthermore, both guitars by Benoit and Florian sound very tuneful and melodic, strengthening the song’s bestial vibe even more, which I believe will cause some “desired” body injuries and bruises to their fans during their live concerts.

Can the excellent Counterfeiters of the Science be labeled as “Tribal Metalcore”? It’s a fuckin’ furious and ruthless composition, in special the harsh and aggressive growls by Didier, with its unstoppable and vicious sounding being the epitome of the music by such distinct act. And featuring singers Julien Truchan (Benighted) and Koba (Loyal To The Grave), the remarkable Slayer medley named To Jeff is a beautiful tribute to the one and only Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.). You have to listen to it to feel its potency, but as a quick summary of what you’ll find in the music (or I should say a “spoiler”), it starts with a few nice words from Jeff himself, followed by the band’s excellent versions for parts of the all-time classics “South of Heaven”, “Dead Skin Mask” and “Raining Blood”, ending with a good chunk of “Angel of Death” and back to a “Raining Blood” finale. In my humble opinion, this is a superb homage to Jeff and there’s no way you can stay indifferent to its energy and rhythm.

This superb EP by Primal Age, which can be streamed in its entirety HERE, is on sale at several locations such as the band’s Big Cartel as a regular CD version or as a special red vinyl collector edition (limited to 100 copies only); at the Deadlight Entertainment’s BandCamp or webstore; at the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore; or on Amazon. After listening to A Silent Wound it’s easy to understand how Primal Age, who can be contacted through their Facebook page and whose music can be appreciated at their YouTube channel and ReverbNation, are still alive and kicking after almost 25 years playing underground heavy music, without selling out to the mass media. This French quintet definitely knows how to bring the best of Heavy Metal and Hardcore together in their music, always sounding fresh, vibrant, honest and loyal to their foundations. Add to that their undeniable talent with their instruments, and there you have the recipe for at least another 25 years blasting awesome music to their fans and to anyone who enjoys tons of heaviness with a good melody behind.

Best moments of the album: The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization and To Jeff.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Deadlight Entertainment

Track listing
1. The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization 3:12
2. A Silent Wound (feat. Felipe Chehuan) 3:11
3. Counterfeiters of the Science 3:35
4. To Jeff (feat. Julien Truchan & Koba) 4:20

Band members
Didier – vocals
Benoit – guitars
Florian – guitars
Dimitri – bass
Mehdi Abou – drums

Guest musicians
Felipe Chehuan – additional vocals on “A Silent Wound”
Julien Truchan – additional vocals on “To Jeff”
Koba – additional vocals on “To Jeff”