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”

Concert Review – Lordi (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 02/22/2017)

The God Of Thunder finally answered our call, and the most electrifying horde of Rock N’ Roll monsters in the universe stormed Toronto with their sensational, gory and theatrical performance for the first time ever.

OPENING ACTS: Mineta and Bookakee

lordi_toronto_2017The weather in Toronto couldn’t have been better for a night of heavy music, given the fact we’re in the middle of the winter and it was supposed to be freaking cold now. Not only there was no snow or rain, but with a temperature above 10 degrees we simply had the perfect conditions for praising the most awesome monsters in the world of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, our beloved Finnish metallers Lordi, at the always comfortable The Opera House. But before Mr. Lordi and his horde hit the stage to mesmerize us with their sensational music and performance, we were treated to two very interesting Canadian bands that, if you don’t know them yet, certainly deserve our attention.

img_0141The first attraction of the night, MINETA, which is Polish for “cunnilingus” or “fellatio” (or if you prefer, in plain English it means giving oral sex to a woman), was more than just a music band, but a talented group of street performers blasting a mix of Ska, Punk Rock and Heavy Metal with a circus-inspired attitude, or as Mineta themselves like to call it, they play “Circus Party Punk”. Formed in 2012 in the city of Toronto, Mineta have just released their debut full-length album Polyglamerous, which was the base of their fun setlist, including the entertaining Fag Beef. While lead singer Bella Muerta stapled Christmas lights to her thigh, showed her boobs and urged the crowd to sing “daj mi mineta” with her (or “give me oral sex” in Polish), guitarist Tony Patrick Olivero played his strings while doing some circus tricks, Arty Basinski pounded his drums from the top of his stilts, and Matt Pazzol (bettern known as YuMB YuMB) was the weirdest clown I’ve ever seen to play bass guitar. There was still time for a sexy bunny to take some bloody eggs from her pussy and eat them. Yes, that all happened during their wicked show. Are you excited to see them live now?

Band members
Bella Muerta – vocals
Tony Patrick Olivero – guitar
Matt Pazzol (YuMB YuMB) – bass
Arty Basinski – drums

img_0149The second opening act of the night was just as insane as Mineta, but instead of an upbeat Punk Rock they played a very violent and gory version of Death Metal defined by the band as “Progressive Theatrical Melodic Brutal Gore Death Metal”. I’m talking about Montreal-based act BOOKAKEE, a name that also has a sexual connotation meaning “a sexual practice in which several men ejaculate on the face of an individual woman”. Formed in 2007, the band comprised of Philippe Langelier, Simon-Pierre Gagnon, Mathieu Paré, Jonathan David and Jean-Philippe Bouchard haunted the souls of the fans at The Opera House with the visceral compositions from their latest album, named Whorrific, including the title-track Whorrific and the bestial Bookakee Blast. And just like mineta, those five metallers didn’t only play their infernal, technical and thrilling music, but also “helped” a girl give birth to her creepy baby, scalped a nun and were joined on stage by the one and only Donkey Kong. However, the most unusual part of the show was when what was supposed to be a wall of death became a dance floor to the sound of Haddaway’s dance hit “What Is Love”. I guess no one saw that coming.

Band members
Philippe Langelier – vocals
Simon-Pierre Gagnon – lead guitar
Mathieu Paré – rhythm guitar
Jonathan David – bass
Jean-Philippe Bouchard – drums 

LORDI

img_0164After such unique performances, it was time for Mr. Lordi and his horde of monsters to deliver an absolutely flawless performance to an audience avid for their music. It was the first time ever that LORDI performed in the city of Toronto, and the whole band gave their best to make it a memorable night for their Torontonian fans. Still promoting their latest release, the excellent Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy), the band blasted all types of songs in their solid setlist, from the beautiful ballad It Snows in Hell to the high-octane rockin’ anthem Bringing Back the Balls to Rock, from the very old school song Icon of Dominance to their newest hit Hug You Hardcore, and so on, putting a huge smile on everyone’s faces the whole night.

But Lordi also had some help in their theatrical performance from the very beginning like what happened with Mineta and Bookakee, with the iconic Skeletor introducing the band and displaying the decapitated head of the sissy He-Man in the opening song of the night, the cheesy but fun Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe). Also, a priest tried to exorcise Mr. Lordi but failed miserably. Who did he think he was dealing with, right? Anyway, Mr. Lordi was on fire the whole presentation, always interacting with the fans and singing all his classics better than ever. Moreover, before playing the fantastic The Riff, he mentioned the song had the same “special ingredient” (which is obviously a heavy riff, if you have no idea what he was talking about) present in the music by behemoths such as KISS, Judas Priest, Motley Crüe, Skid Row and Black Sabbath, proving that before being a monster, he’s a crazy metalhead just like the rest of us.

img_0166Despite being slightly “hidden” at the back of the stage, Mana and Hella both had amazing performances with their powerful beats and keys, in special our stunning  schizo doll emanating charm and electricity during the entire show. And while OX blasted his strings in an entertaining disco-rock-dancing bass solo, Mr. Lordi’s right-hand man Amen was the personification (or should I say “monsterification”?) of a true Rock N’ Roll guitarist, being unstoppable on stage with his cutting riffs and solos. Let’s say their job gets easier than other average bands as they have tons of beyond-catchy hymns to mesmerize us like Hard Rock Hallelujah and Devil Is a Loser, and when they ended the concert with their two most famous “questions”, Who’s Your Daddy? and Would You Love a Monsterman?, they left us all questioning when we’ll have the pleasure of seeing those incredible monsters of rock once again in the city. I personally hope it doesn’t take another 20 years for Lordi to come to Toronto, but I guess I don’t need to worry too much about it as, based on the flammable response by their fans, it won’t take more than a few months for that to happen.

Setlist
God of Thunder (KISS song)
SCG VIII: Opening Scene
Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe)
Babez for Breakfast
Nailed by the Hammer of Frankenstein
The Riff
Bass Solo
Bite It Like a Bulldog
Icon of Dominance
Drum Solo
Bringing Back the Balls to Rock
Hug You Hardcore
It Snows in Hell
The Children of the Night
Keyboard Solo
Down With the Devil
Blood Red Sandman
Hard Rock Hallelujah
Devil Is a Loser

Encore:
Who’s Your Daddy?
Would You Love a Monsterman?
The Night the Monsters Died

Band members
Mr. Lordi – vocals
Amen – guitars
OX – bass
Hella – keyboards
Mana – drums

Album Review – HerezA / I Become Death (2017)

This Croatian bulldozer is ready to take the underworld of heavy music by storm with their savage sophomore opus, a vortex of devastation blending the most hazardous attributes of Punk and Death Metal that will crush your skull ruthlessly.

Rating4

hereza_coverForged in the deepest fires of Beli Manastir in July 2014, a town in eastern Croatia close to the border with Hungary, Punk/Death Metal infernal duo HerezA, which by the way is Croatian for “heresy”, has been battling against all odds in a country otherwise barren for their music style, violently carving their name in the entrails of their homeland through their wicked creations. After the release of their debut album Misanthrope in 2015, lead singer Ivan Kovačević and multi-instrumentalist Slobodan Stupar are ready to take the underworld of heavy music by storm with their savage sophomore opus, a vortex of devastation accurately named I Become Death.

Displaying a darkly intimidating artwork by Polish illustrator and graphic designer Maciej Kamuda, I Become Death will utterly shatter your neck and dismantle your braincase in its 30 minutes of vicious extreme music, bringing forward the most hazardous attributes of Death, Thrash and Black Metal, magnifying their impact with the addition of elements from D-Beat Crust, Hardcore and Punk Rock. Everything is played at the speed of light with all instruments breathing fire and hatred, featuring obviously the well-known high-quality melody and cohesiveness of European Metal. Put differently, HerezA sounds like an unstoppable sonic Leopard 2A7, one of Germany’s most successful and powerful battle tanks in history, aiming directly at your head.

The most brutal Blackened Death Metal is blasted by Slobodan in the title-track I Become Death, a monstrous business card presented by the Croatian duo where Ivan gives life to the destroyer of worlds with his infernal growls through the song’s bestial lyrics (“I come in form of devastating waves / Penetrating radiation filling up the graves / Where I go, I bring the hellish fire / A burning inferno my only desire”). And there’s no time for your head to stop buzzing, as another fantastic sick devastation in the form of music named Jebem Vas U Usta Ladna (or “fucking your cold mouth” from Croatian) comes crushing mercilessly, with Slobodan exhaling anger and aggressiveness through his Death Metal beats and flammable riffs while Ivan keeps growling like a maniac; followed by Homo Homini Lupus Est (“man is a wolf” from Latin), not only an amazing portrait of their fusion of Punk and Death Metal with a strong D-Beat Crust vibe, but also an underground hymn for slamming into the mosh pit.

Get ready to be pulverized like an insignificant insect by this demented duo in the frantic Uništi, Pali, Ruši (Croatian for “destroy, burn, tear it down”), the best tune of the album in my opinion where cutting guitar lines and wicked Black and Death Metal beats make the music sound as if Cannibal Corpse went The Exploited. And again drinking from the fountain of D-Beat Crust and mixing it with elements from Black Metal, Ivan continues to fire his beastly growls in In The Name of God, a song spiced up by its anti-religious lyrics (“They’ve build their biggest temples / To worship their false saints / Covered with diamonds dressed in gold / A hunger for money never getting old”), whereas in the brutish Full Moon Slaughter the duo viciously puts the pedal to the metal, with Slobodan delivering tons of melody through his riffs, but obviously always sounding insanely heavy, leaning towards old school Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal.

hereza_bandNeplodna Jama, or “barren dich”, is perhaps the song with the highest amount of old school Punk Rock and contemporary Punk Metal elements, with the guttural vocals by Ivan being the song’s Death Metal ingredient, feeling like this time it’s The Exploited going Cannibal Corpse. Torn from the Death’s Bed, the slowest composition of all, presents solid guitar lines and beats by Slobodan in sync with the gnarls by Ivan (albeit not as kick-ass as the rest of the album), while in Pošast (“vermin”) the band gets back to their electrified amalgamation of Punk Rock and Death Metal, inspiring you to ferociously smash some skulls into the pit. And Tombcrawler, the high-octane deathblow in I Become Death, begins in a somber way before bursting into sheer brutality, keeping the rampage going on in full force until the song’s sinister neck-breaking ending.

In case you’re thinking “HerezA are awesome, but how am I going to see them live if they’re only two guys?”, let me tell you there’s nothing to worry about, as the duo is joined on stage by their henchmen Bojan Babic on guitar, Milan Prodanovic on bass and Leonardo Markovic on drums, which means their apocalyptic music is materialized quite often at metal pubs and venues in Croatia for the total delight of headbangers all over Europe eager for a sonic bloodbath. And even if you’re not planning a trip to Croatia anytime soon, you can still follow Ivan and Slobodan at their official Facebook page, and purchase I Become Death at the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp page. After listening to the extreme compositions by this Croatian bulldozer, your metallic senses will never be the same again.

Best moments of the album: Jebem Vas U Usta Ladna, Uništi, Pali, Ruši and Full Moon Slaughter.

Worst moments of the album: Torn from the Death’s Bed.

Released in 2017 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing
1. I Become Death 4:15
2. Jebem Vas U Usta Ladna 2:30
3. Homo Homini Lupus Est 3:05
4. Uništi, Pali, Ruši 2:20
5. In The Name of God 1:25
6. Full Moon Slaughter 3:35
7. Neplodna Jama 1:55
8. Torn from the Death’s Bed 2:16
9. Pošast 3:33
10. Tombcrawler 4:14

Band members
Ivan Kovačević – vocals
Slobodan Stupar – all instruments, backing vocals

Guest musician
Denis Sloboda – guitar solo on “In the Name of God” and “Pošast”

Album Review – Horn / Turm am Hang (2017)

One of the most respected underground musicians from Germany returns with more of his nature-themed, medieval style Black Metal bound to pagan roots and tribalism in another remarkable album.

Rating4

coverSince its creation in 2002 by German multi-instrumentalist Niklas “Nerrath”, Teutonic one-man army Horn has aimed at creating nature-themed, medieval style Black Metal bound to pagan roots, focusing on the relation of man and nature in a regional context. And this excellent project, hailing from Paderborn, a city in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, has been extremely successful in its journey, delivering high-end extreme music always with a meaningful concept behind it and always singing in its mother tongue German. Now, in the beginning of 2017, we have Horn’s seventh studio album, the folk, dynamic opus Turm Am Hang.

Inspired by the classic German folk song “Es ist ein Schnitter”, from the 17th century, as well as lansquenets (a gambling game of German origin), wars of the past, tribalism and the spirit of masculinity, Turm Am Hang will stimulate your most primeval senses with its distinctive ambience and powerful music. Furthermore, the artwork, layout and visual concept, all brought forth by German illustrator Timon Kokott, perfectly visualize the album’s combined musical and lyrical themes, complementing the already thrilling experience of listening to the music crafted by Nerrath.

After a pleasant folk intro in the opening track, titled Alles in einem Schnitt (which would translate as “everything in one cut”), Nerrath offers us his thrilling Black Metal with Folk and Pagan Metal elements, all sung in German as aforementioned to make things even more aggressive, not to mention the uniqueness of his tribal and stylish guitar lines. The title-track Turm am Hang (“tower on slope”) also begins in a serene way, again exploding into what can be called Blackened Folk Metal, with Nerrath blasting his enraged growls, potent beats and blazing, rhythmic riffs; followed by Verhallend in Landstrichen (“ranging in landscapes”), with the folk elements in the background adding a lot of epicness to the musicality together with its menacing drums. Furthermore, simply close your eyes and you will be able to feel all the energy flowing from the folkloristic sounds generated by Nerrath in this brilliant composition.

primarA song with an impactful name like Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz (“the one with the bow on the cross”) couldn’t sound less amazing than this, with its somber intro being gradually joined by guitars until all becomes an Extreme Metal extravaganza, perfect for drinking a few pints of beer together with your friends. Ä(h)renschnitter (“spices”) kicks off at full speed, with Nerrath going berserk with his fast-paced beats and riffs while powerfully vociferating the song’s lyrics at the same time. Moreover, hints of old school German Punk Rock are a very welcome addition to the overall musicality, enhancing the song’s effectiveness. And in Totenräumer (“Mortimer”), a fantastic fast-paced creation by Nerrath, our one-man army is startling on vocals, giving life to the song’s epic lyrics. Leaning towards sheer Pagan Metal, it never slows down, keeping the listener fully entertained from start to finish.

The eerie instrumental Lanz und Spieß (“lance and spear”) works as an intro for Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels (“bastion, in the sea of deaf rock”), a voyage through the realms of experimental and atmospheric extreme music, bringing forward elements of Black and Pagan Metal with an obscure rhythm. Ad lastly, as a “bonus” Nerrath offers the listener his excellent version for The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way, a melancholic and introspective journey of ambient music by American Ambient Black Metal band When Bitter Spring Sleeps, from their 2013 album Coven of the Wolves. Not only this is the only song in English in the album, but it also features guest vocals by American Lord Sardonyx, the mastermind behind When Bitter Spring Sleeps himself.

In order to enjoy everything Nerrath and his amazing project Horn have to offer, simply follow his steps on Facebook, and go to Horn’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel to grab your copy of Turm am Hang. As mentioned before, the experience of listening to an album by Horn is beyond unique, connecting you to the pagan and tribal origins of man and embraced all the time by superior metal music. As this is always the main goal of ambient and experimental extreme music, I must say Turm am Hang triumphs brilliantly hands down.

Best moments of the album: Alles in einem Schnitt, Verhallend in Landstrichen and Totenräumer.

Worst moments of the album: Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels.

Released in 2017 Iron Bonehead/Northern Silence Productions

Track listing
1. Alles in einem Schnitt 5:42
2. Turm am Hang 5:09
3. Verhallend in Landstrichen 5:10
4. Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz 5:00
5. Ä(h)renschnitter 5:35
6. Totenräumer 5:34
7. Lanz und Spieß 2:09
8. Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels 4:44
9. The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way (When Bitter Spring Sleeps cover) 8:12

Band members
Nerrath – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Lord Sardonyx – additional vocals on “The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way”

Album Review – Abigail / The Final Damnation (2016)

Delivering chaos, sex and blasphemy for over 20 years, one of the most prominent bands from the underground Japanese scene strikes back with more of their libertine and devilish music.

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abigail-the-final-damnation-coverWhenever the name “Abigail” is enunciated, your mind probably takes you to Denmark, home of one of the most iconic metallers of all time, the one and only King Diamond. However, if you travel further east, more specifically to Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, you’ll face a high-octane fusion of Black, Thrash and Heavy Metal from the 80’s with a libidinous twist through the music by an uncompromising power trio known as Abigail, who have recently released their fifth studio album, titled The Final Damnation, highly recommended for fans of bands like Venom, Bulldozer and Carnivore who also nurture a profound admiration for topics such as war, alcohol, partying, depravity and bitches.

Abigail, who have dubbed themselves as “The Most Evil Band in Japan”, was formed in 1992 in the city of Tokyo, Japan by Yasuyuki Suzuki, a talented multi-instrumentalist and one of the most important names in the underground extreme music scene in Japan, having played with bands such as Cut Throat, Barbatos, Tiger Junkies and the iconic Sigh, from our beloved metal chick Dr. Mikannibal. Their musicality might have shifted a bit from their earliest raw Black Metal to a more complex degree of Speed Metal mixed with Street Punk (a mixture classified by the band as “Street Metal”), also increasing the level of debauchery and blasphemy in their lyrics. With The Final Damnation, which features an obscure artwork by French artist Christophe Moyen, the band has considerably increased the dosage of Black Metal in their music, going back to their roots without losing their current thrashy attitude and electricity.

abigail-band-promoFrantic guitars and drums with a strong melody supporting them set the tone for the berserk title-track The Final Damnation, before Yasuyuki begins firing his inebriate gnarls. In essence, it’s music to drink and fight, exactly what the band wants you to do, boosted by all old school guitar solos Noboru “Jero” Sakuma delivers throughout the whole song. Blasphemy Night is insanity in the form of music, a bestial marriage between Black and Thrash Metal with nuances of Hardcore and Punk Rock where Yasuyuki sounds truly demonic on vocals while drummer Youhei shows no mercy for mankind, obviously commanding us all to slam into the fuckin’ pit, followed by a massacre titled Whisky Coke and Bitch. I guess nothing needs to be said about the name of the song, right? Anyway, Jero continues delivering his traditional solos in this less obscure chant, strongly inspired by the rebellious Punk Rock played by bands such as The Exploited and Black Flag.

In spite of its slower-than-usual start, the deranged composition Sex & Metal (another song with a “cute” name) is sheer devastation throughout its almost 6 minutes, with Yasuyuki and his henchmen smashing everyone who dares to cross their path, also exhibiting more of their insane high-speed guitar solos. And the gates are opened by Abigail’s infernal composition straightforwardly named Open the Gates of Hell, displaying a sonority highly inspired by Thrash Metal from the 80’s with an eccentric Japanese touch. In addition, the bass guitar by Yasuyuki sounds amazingly brutal in this hurricane of disturbing metal. Blazing guitar lines ignite the thrashy composition No Pain! No Limit!, showcasing backing vocals a la traditional Punk Rock while Youhei delivers precisely what we all want in this type of music by pounding his drums like a wild beast during the entire song.

The pulverizing hymn Sweet Baby Metal Sluts doesn’t only have another gentle name, but the screeching gnarls by Yasuyuki will torment your mind while the band keeps discharging their libidinous music through your ears, with Jero continuing his feast of demented solos. And closing the album, how about 7 minutes of total anarchy? That’s what you’ll get in Holocaust by Evil with its Slayer-like guitars and extreme aggressiveness. Youhei pays his personal tribute to Thrash and Black Metal, and although there’s a melodic break influenced by traditional Heavy Metal after around two minutes, Abigail had to obviously finish off the album like a steamroller from hell with their lunatic musicality. Before all is said and done, Yasuyuki fires some final grasps from the depths of hell to give the whole song a more macabre touch.

As aforementioned, if you truly consider Heavy Metal, sex, alcohol and blasphemy as the most important things in your life (and you should), the music by Abigail will definitely be the perfect soundtrack for your metallic and carnal adventures. And in case you want to show your support for those Japanese metallers, go grab your copy of The Final Damnation at the Nuclear War Now! Productions’ BandCamp or at their webstore as a CDa regular LP or as a “die hard” LP, or at Abigail’s official webstore. Abigail have been on fire since their inception almost 20 years ago, and The Final Damnation is just another proof this defiant troop from Tokyo is far from calling it a day.

Best moments of the album: Blasphemy Night, Sex & Metal and Open the Gates of Hell.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Nuclear War Now! Productions

Track listing
1. The Final Damnation 4:32
2. Blasphemy Night 3:55
3. Whisky Coke and Bitch 4:50
4. Sex & Metal 5:50
5. Open the Gates of Hell 3:57
6. No Pain! No Limit! 3:04
7. Sweet Baby Metal Sluts 3:22
8. Holocaust by Evil 7:08

Band members
Yasuyuki Suzuki – vocals, bass
Noboru “Jero” Sakuma – guitars
Youhei – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Heidi Shepherd & Carla Harvey

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Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages… Step right up and get your tickets to the greatest show on earth!

Love them or hate them, we all must admit that the two female metallers chosen to celebrate the third anniversary of The Headbanging Moose have a strong influence on contemporary Heavy Metal due to their unique (and aggressive) attitude, which obviously includes their sexy looks and fiery and chaotic music. They deal with their sexuality more naturally than we prepare a simple orange juice, and although some people might consider their work futile or even too obscene, let’s not forget that heavy music is above all things a form of art where artists can freely express their thoughts, ideals and beliefs through their compositions and, in many cases like for example in Black Metal, through their image. Besides, their music is a billion times better than anything Lady Gaga does, a woman who calls herself a true metal fan but in reality keeps playing second-class meaningless pop stuff. With that said, let’s raise our horns to frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, the dynamic duo responsible for the amusing blend of violence and rebelliousness bred by American Metalcore/Groove Metal band Butcher Babies.

Before we talk about each “butcher baby” in more details, let me provide you a short and sweet overview of this Alternative Metal band from Los Angeles, California in case you have never heard of them in your life. Formed in 2010, Butcher Babies probably have one of the most solid lineups in the history of heavy music despite being just a few years old. Apart from Heidi and Carla, the band is also made up by guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner, all still playing together since the band’s inception and, based on how healthy their relationship is, that’s the way things are going to be for many years to come. The name of the band came from the song Butcher Baby by American Punk Rock band Plasmatics, spearheaded by the iconic singer, songwriter and actress Wendy O. Williams. Both Heidi and Carla acknowledge how important Wendy O. Williams was (and still is) for the increasing acceptance of women in heavy music, which is one of the reasons why they wear such eccentric attire during their live performances including wearing nothing but black tape over their nipples (albeit they’ve ditched it in recent years).

Despite their short period of existence so far, the band has already released the single Blonde Girls All Look The Same in 2011, the EP Butcher Babies in 2012, their first full-length album Goliath in 2013, another EP entitled Uncovered in 2014 and finally their most recent full-length album, Take It Like a Man, in 2015. You can have lots of fun with their music and sexiness in songs such as They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!, Igniter, Magnolia Blvd, Mr. Slowdeath, Dead Man Walking, I Smell a Massacre, Gravemaker and The Butcher, or you can simply enjoy their entire 40-minute performance at the always superb Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belguim in 2015. There are also tons of cool interviews with Heidi and Carla on YouTube, such as backstage interviews at Knotfest in 2014 and at Rockstar Mayhem Tour in 2013; their explanation for abandoning the nipple tape and covering up; a nice interview for Metal Hammer at Soundwave 2015 where they talk about hugging koala bears, fighting kangaroos and their adventures in Australia; an interview to German channel BunchTV in 2011 still with the nipple tapes; and a very relaxed interview to FeMetalTV in 2015.

HEIDI SHEPHERD

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Enough said already, now it’s all about the girls. Let’s begin with the sometimes blonde, sometimes red-headed hurricane Heidi Shepherd, the woman accountable for the high-pitched screams and growls for Butcher Babies. Born on April 17, 1985 in Utah, United States, Heidi is more than “just” a metal singer, being also a radio DJ, actress and casting director best known for the 2008 thriller Animals and the TV series MANswers, as well as minor parts and uncredited appearances in different shows such as My Name Is Earl, Ghots Whisperer and CSI: NY.

Heidi, who by the way is the oldest of 6 kids, grew up in Provo, Utah, the third largest city in the state and located around 43 miles south of Salt Lake City, where she attended Provo High School, graduating in 2003. Still in high school, believe it or not Heidi was an accomplished track and field athlete, even traveling to Russia to participate in the Junior Olympics. She also graduated from Southern Utah University, where once again she showcased all her athleticism participating in competitions such as high jump and long jump. Also, as a girl raised in the Mormon religion, Heidi has a very interesting view of the concept of Heaven and Hell, stating those are things the human being made up to make ourselves feel comfortable about the afterlife, something to give people a purpose and life goals.

In regards to her passion for music and how it helped her become a better person, our unrestrained vocalist said music was basically the only thing she could relate to in her childhood, having as her personal heroes distinct names such as Slipknot, Wendy O. Williams, Gwen Stefani and Joan Jett, most of them being females that defy the male dominance in music as you can see. However, it’s Slipknot, a top to bottom male band, who had the strongest influence on her vocal style and stage performance, saying when she saw a picture of them for the first time (she was around 12 or 13 only) it really scared her but intrigued her at the same time. Once a girl who developed an intense fear of the dark, Heidi learned to embrace fear and use it in her creative process through the years, something we can definitely connect to what Slipknot aim with their unique approach.

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If you think she’s a party girl who doesn’t sleep at all and drinks every alcoholic beverage in sight, you’re absolutely wrong. Well, of course she always has her share of fun, but Heidi mentioned already in different interviews that if she doesn’t get enough sleep every night her live performances suffer a truly negative impact. On top of that, Heidi said that despite loving whiskey she can’t drink it on the road anymore, as the effect of the alcohol hurts her vocal chords, so she saves it for when she gets back home. If you’re a singer I’m sure you can relate to that, because you can be tired and drunk and still play a guitar, for example, but the impact alcohol can have on your vocals can be devastating without any doubt.

Lastly, as a lover of horror flicks and a believer of supernatural and paranormal forces, which in my opinion is an excellent source of inspiration for the type of music played by Butcher Babies, Heidi mentioned that among her favorite recent movies we can find titles like the new Evil Dead, V/H/S and V/H/S/2, You’re Next and The Purge, all pretty decent films with interesting storylines, don’t you think? And who knows, maybe it’s time for a slasher movie with a main female character named “Heidi the Butcher”, who not only chops and dismembers her victims, but does that screaming like a maniac while listening to some vicious heavy music. Or maybe it should be a sanguinary duo of Heidi and Carla? Read the rest of this essay and take your own conclusions.

Heidi Shepherd’s Official Facebook page
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Twitter
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Instagram

“There’s no reason why girls can’t get up there and rock just as hard as, if not harder than, the boys. And I’m so happy to say that I’m seeing a movement.” – Heidi Shepherd

CARLA HARVEY

carla01Of course Butcher Babies wouldn’t be complete without the charisma of the daredevil vocalist, author and actress Carla Harvey. Born on October 4, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan, United States, Carla is what we can call a very successful “experiment” as she is of Ethiopian, Finnish, Irish and Italian background, and her contribution to Butcher Babies comes in the form of hellish growls deeper than the screams by Heidi, endless energy on stage and some of the weirdest faces you can think of. Put differently, when Carla is performing with the band, she becomes a true female demon like Lilith, for example.

Carla attended Glenn Levey Middle School in Southfield, Michigan, before going to Mercy High School (an all-girl private Catholic school) and Harrison High School, both in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her first job in Hollywood was as an Entertainment Reporter for the Playboy Channel, also taking part in several movies such as Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove (2005), Happy in the Valley (2009) and Dry Run (2010), and other TV shows like Root of All Evil, Sex Chronicles and, just like her partner Heidi, MANswers. In addition, she took a break from the entertainment world to earn a degree in Mortuary Science from Cypress College in California, and worked as an embalmer and funeral director before forming Butcher Babies.

Our raven-haired (with some blue nuances) brawler said she’s been into music since she was a little kid, playing instruments like guitar and bass but always knowing she was born to be a singer. Her first appearance in a band happened when she was around 17 years old, but it wasn’t until Butcher Babies were born that she reached true stardom. Among her main influences, we can find kick-ass names like Slayer and Slipknot, with Slash and Jimi Hendrix being her personal heroes especially due to their roots. As a biracial girl growing in Detroit, seeing musicians that were also of African-American descent playing the music she loved was essential for her to keep pursuing her dreams and overcoming the odds imposed by society on her. Another huge influence on her vocal style and onstage performance in the one and only Phil Anselmo, the iconic frontman from Pantera and Down, who she has admired since she was a kid, highlighting how humble and easy-going he is as a person after finally being able to meet him on the road.

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Heavily influenced by horror movies such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects (these two directed by another one of her idols, Rob Zombie), Carla is also passionate about writing, drawing and reading comic books since she was a kid, something that helped her cope with loneliness as an introverted child, and from that fusion of horror flicks, comics and Heavy Metal she became a “comic book mastermind” according to Hustler Magazine. Her first comic book, entitled Butcher Babies (illustrated by Anthony Winn from Deepcut Productions), was released at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, followed by her first full-length novel Death and Other Dances in 2014, and more recently the comic series Soul Sucka, the story about an African-American vampire, in 2015. Carla is always drawing “naked girls” and other stuff, and if you’re interested in taking a look at her work you can visit her Big Cartel page.

And finally, just like what was written about Heidi in terms of drinking and partying while on tour, Carla also said drinking lots of water and hot tea is what truly helps keep her vocal chords moist, together with the obvious and necessary amount of sleep per night. However, she mentioned she also enjoys drinking Jägermeister as it coats her throat rather than drying it out. Although I’m a beer guy, I’m an admirer of Jäger too and I understand perfectly what she’s trying to say about the effect of this exquisite German digestif on your throat. If your job requires you to cut off alcohol, all you have to do is improvise and find other alternatives. And it looks like being creative and always trying new stuff doesn’t scare our roaring metal babe at all.

Carla Harvey’s Official Facebook page
Carla Harvey’s Official Twitter
Carla Harvey’s Official Instagram

“I wish, some day people stop using the female fronted this, female fronted that, because it always takes the focus away from the band itself, because you know, we are all just Heavy Metal bands, we are all doing the same thing.” – Carla Harvey

Butcher Babies’ Official Facebook page
Butcher Babies’ Official Twitter
Butcher Babies’ Official Instagram

Album Review – Volbeat / Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie (2016)

Seal the deal and let’s boogie to the classy and flammable music by Denmark’s best Rock N’ Roll band of all time.

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volbeat_seal the deal & lets boogieAfter the release of the highly acclaimed Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies in 2013, which entered the Billboard 200 in the United States at number nine, topped the charts in Austria, Canada, Denmark and Germany, among others, receiving immediate gold and platinum status in those countries, as well as being nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, many fans started to wonder where Danish Rock N’ Roll rebels Volbeat could go after achieving such a great success. Fortunately for all admirers of good old Rock N’ Roll music, those rockers from the stunning city of Copenhagen are still on top form, strong and sparkling with excitement, releasing now their action-packed sixth full-length album entitled Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie.

The album is their first not to feature longtime bassist Anders Kjølholm, who left in November 2015 after being responsible for Volbeat’s rumbling tones since the band’s inception in 2001. Despite that significant change in the lineup, all other ingredients we love in the music by Volbeat are present in the entire album, including obviously their thrilling heavy riffs and the inebriate (and sometimes even hard to understand) vocals by frontman Michael Polsen. Add to that the classy contribution of two very special guests, these being singer Johan Olsen (from Danish rock group Magtens Korridorer) and Canada’s own Danko Jones, and the final result is exactly what every fan of Volbeat could expect from such an accomplished band.

The initial riff in the opening track, the hit single The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, is the purest form of Volbeat you can find on earth, as well as pretty much all vocal lines by Michael Poulsen. Born to be a radio hit, this is the type of song that has all aspects necessary to be successful, such as a catchy chorus, electrified guitars and headbanging beats, which can also be found in the next track, Marie Laveau, another classic Volbeat tune, offering the listener some smooth Rock N’ Roll with a nice melody, not to mention the excellent job done by Rob Caggiano with his always fiery solos. For Evigt (which means “Forever” in Danish), is the song to feature Johan Olsen on guest vocals, being the second collaboration between Olsen and Volbeat following “The Garden’s Tale”. It’s definitely not as amazing as their 2007 classic, but still fresh and exciting, with its guitar riffs and solos, together with the Danish parts of the lyrics, becoming the top moments of this solid Rock N’ Roll song.

I never thought I would see Volbeat singing about a topic usually explored by traditional Heavy Metal bands like what we see in the awesome The Gates of Babylon (“Awakening a goddess in the dark / On a stake she’s been hanging like a doll / Tried to reach for the underworld / Had to pass through the seven gates of hell”), a beautiful composition that adds a lot of harmony and groove to the album and consequently to the band’s portfolio, with even the guitar lines sounding more “Babylonic” than usual. And they do not get tired of firing good rock music, this time entitled Let It Burn, a song that all fans of Volbeat will have a good time listening while on the road, with highlights to Michael’s performance with his Johnny Cash-like vocals enhanced by Rob’s powerful guitar lines.

volbeat 2016Black Rose, featuring Danko Jones, is an awesome Hard Rock hymn perfect for being played on the radio as well, where our guest rocker made in Canada adds a lot of stamina to the song with his heavier and deeper voice; whereas the average Rebound,  a cover version for a generic song by American Punk Rock band Teenage Bottlerocket, brings nothing special to the album. Well, maybe if they turned the electricity up a bit the final result would have been a lot better, because it gets really tiring even having only two and a half minutes. Anyway, girls named Mary Jane will definitely fall in love with the power semi-ballad Mary Jane Kelly, very tuneful and pleasant like most of the songs in the album. Furthermore, Jon Larsen might not be the fastest or most technical drummer in the world, but he knows what to do to make Volbeat’s music thrive. On the other hand, Goodbye Forever is by far the worst of all songs, not because of its rhythm or lyrics, but it’s those horrible choir-like backing vocals that join Michael after three minutes that truly annoy me, being too “churchy” for my taste.

At least that boredom doesn’t last long, as Volbeat blast one of the most electrifying of all songs, the Rock N’ Roll hymn Seal the Deal, with its thrilling rhythm, the blazing solos by Rob, and a first-rate old school Volbeat chorus (“I get groovy / Now turn it on and fight / Seal the deal and let’s boogie for a while / Let’s get groovy / Burning out with rage / Seal the deal and let’s do it all again”). In other words, this is surely one of their best new songs to be added to their live concerts. The second cover of the album, Battleship Chains by American Southern Rock group The Georgia Satellites, sounds a lot better, an old rock classic with a southern sonority nicely played by Volbeat, while You Will Know, the second to last song of the regular version of the album, brings forward more melodic rock crafted in Denmark showcasing passionate performances by all members, with Rob stealing the show once again thanks to his amazing solos. And lastly, the heavy and metallic The Loa’s Crossroad offers the listener a more aggressive side of the band, with its resonant bass guitar and especially its bag pipes adding more violence and epicness to the musicality displayed. Additionally, if you buy the deluxe edition of the album, you’ll also get four awesome bonus tracks that live up to Volbeat’s tradition: a one-minute devastation named Slaytan, the North American version of “For Evigt” entitled The Bliss (where the Danish chorus sung by Johan is replaced by Michael singing it in English), a version of Black Rose without Danko Jones, and a live version of The Devil’s Bleeding Crown recorded in Denmark in 2015.

It might take time for some fans to get used to Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, mainly because a few of the songs presented in the album sound too “commercial” compared to their old classics, but after a few listens you’ll realize there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the album, it’s simply the Volbeat we all enjoy. Of course, as a huge fan of extreme music, I would love to see Volbeat getting heavier and darker than what they really are in some of their compositions, but it’s undeniable they remain loyal to their roots no matter what, and I respect that a lot. As long as they keep delivering their unique Rock N’ Roll to the world, with Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie being a very good example of that, I’ll continue to be a happy rocker.

Best moments of the album: The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, The Gates of Babylon and Seal the Deal.

Worst moments of the album: Rebound and Goodbye Forever.

Released in 2016 Vertigo/Republic/Universal

Track listing
1. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown 3:56
2. Marie Laveau 3:13
3. For Evigt (feat. Johan Olsen) 4:44
4. The Gates of Babylon 4:34
5. Let It Burn 3:39
6. Black Rose (feat. Danko Jones) 3:55
7. Rebound (Teenage Bottlerocket cover) 2:29
8. Mary Jane Kelly 5:39
9. Goodbye Forever 4:30
10. Seal the Deal 4:09
11. Battleship Chains (Georgia Satellites cover) 3:21
12. You Will Know 4:31
13. The Loa’s Crossroad 4:21

Deluxe edition bonus tracks
14. Slaytan 0:58
15. The Bliss 4:42
16. Black Rose 3:57
17. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown (Live at Tusindårsskoven, Odense 2015) 4:04

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar, bass guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar (live)
Jon Larsen – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Johan Olsen – additional vocals on “For Evigt”
Danko Jones – additional vocals on “Black Rose”

Album Review – Atrament / Eternal Downfall (2016)

If the downfall of humanity demanded a soundtrack, it would be undoubtedly the brutal and macabre blackened music by this amazing American horde.

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12inch_3mm_v92012.inddWhile listening to the hellish Eternal Downfall, the debut full-length album by American Blackened D-Beat Crust/Death Metal horde Atrament, one big question came to my mind in regards to their music style. Would Atrament be a heavier-than-usual Punk Rock band with huge European influences, especially from the unparalleled sounding of Norwegian Black Metal, or a Death Metal band highly inspired by the Gothenburg sound with a strong hardcore/punk attitude? Either way, the music by this amazing band from Oakland, California will crush your mind and leave you completely disoriented, similarly to what iconic bands such as Bolt Thrower, Napalm Death and Darkthrone do. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of fast and furious metal music, you’re going to love the experience.

Brought into being in the fall of 2014 in the United States by current and former members of the groups Moral Void, Black September, Necrot and Abstracter, this talented American band offers a thrashy and gripping fusion of different genres of extreme music that together have the impact of a nuclear bomb on the listener, always remaining loyal to the roots of British Anarcho-Punk and Scandinavian Black and Death Metal from the 90’s. The amazingly obscure artwork by American illustrator Stephen Wilson (Unknown Relic) is already a good indication of how vile and cataclysmic the music found in Eternal Downfall is, but I suggest you hit play and, if you have the guts, enjoy each one of the album’s 11 ruthless compositions.

Atrament do not fool around and start blasting their brutal and macabre blackened music already from the very first second of the opening track, No Beyond, a powerful blend of Black, Thrash and Death Metal where guitarist James Meyer fires blazing riffs while lead singer Mattia Alagna doesn’t sound he’s living a happy moment at all. And before you can catch the slightest breath, here comes the barbaric tune Sunken Reign effectively boosted by its Punk Rock/Hardcore elements, with highlights to the sick beats by drummer Chad Gailey; followed by Aberration, a faster and more demonic song with a cutthroat ambience that will make you feel uncomfortable for sure. This amazing composition brings forward two and a half minutes of the perfect amalgamation between Black Metal and Hardcore, with noticeable influences from Napalm Death and other aggressive bands.

Atrament[1]James kicks off the massacre entitled Consumed with his solid riffs, being quickly complemented by the deep growling by Matia, the blast beats by Chad and the rumbling bass lines by Sam Carr-Prindle, before the bestial tune Hericide comes with its berserk rhythm and feeling, making the album even more thrilling. It’s nonstop action that should be fantastic when played live, sounding as if The Exploited decided to put on some corpse paint and re-directed the content of their music to all that’s evil. And in the longest of all tracks, Wretched Apparition, which displays hints of old school Slayer and a vibrant Death Metal approach, they really want us all to get completely destroyed inside the circle pit until its suffocating ending.

An imposing intro marks the start of Rotting Twilight, which then showcases metallic bass lines and pure devastation for three and a half minutes, while Aeon of Suffering “informs” us there’s absolutely no time to rest due to its high-speed carnage that brutally goes on from start to finish. And in World of Ash we are beautifully smashed by the most wicked form of Blackened Death Metal, led by the great riffs by James and the visceral vociferations by Mattia. As ferocious as a wolf in the wild, Atrament keep kicking ass with an incredible amount of stamina in Circle of Wolves, becoming impossible not to go for some good slamming while listening to this tune; whereas Dusk Abuse provides us all one final blast of dark and extreme music where it’s obvious the band’s main goal is the total extermination of mankind. They make sure no one is left alive after listening to it, with James and Chad speeding up their pieces and therefore adding an extra dosage of insanity to the music.

Atrament can be found on Facebook if you want to get in touch with the band and send them a message, and in case you want to purchase their fiendish opus, Eternal Downfall is available at their BandCamp page, at the Broken Limbs Recordings’ webstore, at the Argento Records’ Big Cartel page or at the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp page. If the downfall of humanity (we’re already experiencing nowadays) had a soundtrack, I’m pretty sure it would be very similar to the extreme music with a punk attitude Atrament can flawlessly generate.

Best moments of the album: Aberration, Hericide and World of Ash.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Broken Limbs Recordings/Argento Records/Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Track listing
1. No Beyond 2:14
2. Sunken Reign 2:31
3. Aberration 2:22
4. Consumed 3:08
5. Hericide 2:33
6. Wretched Apparation 3:44
7. Rotting Twilight 3:28
8. Aeon of Suffering 2:26
9. World of Ash 2:47
10. Circle of Wolves 2:34
11. Dusk Abuse 3:34

Band members
Mattia Alagna – vocals
James Meyer – guitar
Sam Carr-Prindle – bass
Chad Gailey – drums