Metal Chick of the Month – Cristina Scabbia

Follow me, follow me… As I trip the darkness…

If you write her name with an “h”, she will kick your ass mercilessly. That’s probably the most fun way to introduce you to our beyond special Metal Chick of the Month, the electrified Italian rocker Cristina Scabbia, one of the most influential and reputable women in the entire world of heavy music and the perfect choice for celebrating four metallic and totally awesome years of The Headbanging Moose webzine this October. Owner of a distinct and very potent voice, Cristina Scabbia, whose full name is Cristina Adriana Chiara Scabbia, was born on June 6, 1972 in the cosmopolitan city of Milan, a metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region and a global capital of fashion and design. Best known as one of the two vocalists for Italian Alternative Rock/Metal band Lacuna Coil, Cristina is not only an accomplished singer and lyricist, but also a writer, a fashion model and, above all, a true headbanger who loves what she does and who has already devoted a good part of her life to Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Cristina was not even 20 years old when she began singing professionally as a touring musician for other bands and providing backing vocals, in 1991. Later that year, she met vocalist Andrea Ferro and bass player Marco Coti Zelati, who would be the future founding members of Lacuna Coil, in Milan’s Midnight Club, and there’s no way of talking about Cristina without talking about her unique connection with Lacuna Coil. Actually, when the band started it was called Sleep of Right, having recorded a song called Bleeding Souls for the Noise of Bolgia compilation in 1995. The band soon changed its name to Ethereal, playing an interesting mix of Gothic and Doom Metal, with Cristina being initially employed only as a session singer, being asked to record backup vocals for the choruses of their demo tape, but the band members liked the way the male and female vocals sounded together and they asked her to be a permanent member then. After several lineup changes and after releasing a two-track demo in 1996, Ethereal were signed by Century Media Records at the end of 1997 and had to change their name to Lacuna Coil (which means “empty spiral”), as Ethereal was already taken by a band from Greece.

After the name change in 1997, Lacuna Coil became a reference in Alternative Rock and Metal worldwide, having already released eight studio albums, those being In a Reverie (1999), Unleashed Memories (2001), Comalies (2002), Karmacode (2006), Shallow Life (2009), Dark Adrenaline (2012), Broken Crown Halo (2014), and more recently Delirium (2016), as well as the EP’s Lacuna Coil (1998), Halflife (2000), Shallow Live: Acoustic at Criminal Records (2010) and The House of Shame / Delirium (2016). In addition to that, the band also released a DVD in 2008, titled Visual Karma (Body, Mind and Soul). Each album by Lacuna Coil is very unique, presenting a different sonority from the others, with the band always adding new elements to their music and experimenting with new sounds. If you want to have a journey through the various phases of the band, paying a detailed attention to the evolution of Cristina (whose highest note ever hit is claimed to be an A7) as a singer and a performer, you should definitely check their songs Falling Again (from In a Reverie), Senzafine (from Unleashed Memories), Swamped (from Comalies), Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence (from Karmacode), I Like It (from Shallow Life), Trip to Darkness (from Dark Adrenaline), Nothing Stands in Our Way (from Broken Crown Halo), and Blood, Tears, Dust (from Delirium). As a matter of fact, there are so many official videos as well as bootlegs online with Cristina and Lacuna Coil you can literally spend hours or even days just watching everything nonstop.

Apart from her solid career with Lacuna Coil, Cristina can be seen in several distinct projects from the most diverse bands and genres, and in all of them she adds her personal touch of rebelliousness, passion and electricity. First let’s talk about her participation in metal-related bands and projects, and then let’s show what she can do when she’s not in her metallic mode. In 2007, Cristina lent her voice to the song S.O.S. (Anything but Love), from the album Worlds Collide by Finnish Symphonic Heavy Metal band Apocalyptica, and the result was so interesting she ended up playing several live concerts with them in the coming years. And it seems the year of 2007 was very fruitful for her career outside Lacuna Coil, as she also recorded what’s probably her biggest non-Lacuna Coil hit, the revamped version of the all-time classic power ballad “A Tout le Monde”, this time named A Tout le Monde (Set Me Free), by American Speed Metal titans Megadeth, featured on their excellent album United Abominations. Needless to say, every time Megadeth and Cristina were in the same city or festival, they ended up playing that amazing song together for the delight of the fans at the venue, as I was able to enjoy during the 2012 version of Gigantour with Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil here in Canada.

You can also find Cristina in unique metal projects such as the character “The Mother” on the 2013 album The Theory of Everything, by Dutch Progressive Metal/Rock band Ayreon, and as a guest vocalist on the song Scars, by Thrash/Groove Metal project Metal Allegiance, from their 2015 self-titled album. In addition, Cristina is also one of the musicians interviewed on the 2007 documentary Over the Madness, a DVD that follows the career of British Doom/Death Metal icons Paradise Lost, including interviews from present and past band members, plus a host of others such as the aforementioned Cristina, Martin E. Ain, Aaron Stainthorpe and Alex Skolnick, presenting the band’s history from its formation up to 2006, in chronological order.

In regards to her contributions to non-metal acts, you can enjoy the charming and powerful vocals by Cristina on different songs such as Beautiful Lie, as a duet with Italian singer Emiliano Audisio (Line 77) to be part of the soundtrack for the 2013 Italian film Passione Sinistra; Nell’acqua, with Rezophonic; an alternate version of Watch Over You, with Alter Bridge; Basta!, with L’Aura and Rezophonic; Can You Hear Me?, also with Rezophonic; and I’m That, with Franco Battiato. By the way, when Cristina sang with L’Aura it was in 2008 at Festival di Sanremo, one of the most important pop festivals in Italy (if not the most important one). And you can also find some nice videos online of Cristina singing together with a Queen tribute band called Queenmania, such as in the all-time classics Bohemian Rhapsody and Under Pressure. And in addition to all that, she also used to write an advice column in the popular rock magazine Revolver, alongside the iconic American drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah).

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If you follow The Headbanging Moose you might have seen Cristina’s name as an inspiration for several of our previous metal chicks, just showing how important she is to the expansion of the presence of women in heavy music, but of course as any normal person she also has her idols and favorite bands in music. Among her main influences and names who contributed to her becoming a singer and pursuing a career in Heavy Metal, Cristina mentioned legendary bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Motörhead, as well as darker bands like Paradise Lost and Type O Negative. By the way, some of her favorite songs, those that really make a good amount of adrenaline rush through her body, are Motörhead’s Ace of Spades and Type O Negative’s My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, which despite being very distinct songs I have to agree that they surely put a smile on the face of anyone who enjoys some good old rock and metal. Of course Cristina as any other talented and professional artist listens to a lot of non-metal music, in special music from her homeland Italy, which in the end helps her diversify her vocals from song to song, explore new horizons and remain vibrant and relevant to the world of heavy music.

Slightly changing the focus to her personal life, many of you might think it’s a dream to date a woman like her, but as in any relationship there are always some hurdles and barriers to be overcome in order to keep the passion and love going on. Cristina has been in a relationship with Slipknot and ex-Stone Sour guitarist Jim Root for over 10 years already, but keeping that relationship fresh is not an easy task due to distance between them as they’re both very busy musicians who are always on tour (not to mention the fact that Root lives in Florida while Cristina resides in Italy). “Well, my lifestyle is challenging already,” Cristina explained. “Because I travel a lot and I work very hard. So you have to learn to live your life in a different way, but in a way that works for you. So for me to even think about a normal relationship would be something weird.” Before dating Root, she was in a relationship with Lacuna Coil’s own bassist Marco, and when they broke up let’s say it wasn’t easy for them to keep working together as a band, but fortunately as decent adults they overcame that “issue” and now they’re very good friends, loving each other in a different level.

Another interesting topic discussed by Cristina in one of her interviews was related to the recent deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, where she expressed her opinion about mental illnesses, from depression to dementia to other types of mental conditions, saying we should never judge the others’ decisions as there’s so much to understand about the whole situation before reaching any conclusion. That was also explored on Lacuna Coil’s latest album Delirium. “When we did Delirium, it was really important for us to treat it in the most respectful and delicate way possible,” said Cristina. “Because you can try to send a positive message and to try to tell people, ‘Oh, you should be positive all the time, you should be happy, you should overcome depression,’ and everything, but it’s not as easy as you speak. It’s way deeper than that and more complicated than this.”

As any good Italian woman, in special if that woman is born in the city of Milan, Cristina loves stylish clothes, trying on new make-up, taking care of her dark hair and everything else that’s a synonym to fashion. For instance, she considers her beauty and make-up signature the one she herself calls a “raccoon look”, or as described by Cristina, “a heavy sort of smokey eyes style with carbon black eyeshadow surrounding both whole eyes and heavily in the lower part of the eye as well.” She also mentioned that, because she likes to combine styles and to work with contrasts, she likes to observe everything around her and go to runway shows in Milan, listing as some of her style icons the always trendy Madonna and the very elegant and dark British and Irish designer Daphne Guinness. Furthermore, she said her make-up and outfit behavior is in constant change due to new products, styles and techniques that are always appearing in the market, stating that while thinking about a new look for her concerts she always takes into account several important factors such as if the clothes are easy to carry around, if they’re washable, and if they allow her to move a lot onstage. Also in the fashion world, American photographer Jeremy Saffer (an old-time friend of Cristina) invited her to be her calendar girl for the Halloween 2015 Special Edition of XPRESSIONS magazine, with the final result being beyond stunning, of course, being sold out in a really short time.

Regarding her preparation for getting onstage and spending a long time on the road during Lacuna Coil’s extremely busy agenda worldwide, Cristina said she doesn’t exercise a lot, saying she’s some sort of “lazy bum”, and that concentration is the most important part of the process for her together with some warming up exercises to keep her voice in good shape. She said travelling all the time and managing everything is definitely not for everyone, but it can be very rewarding if you love what you do. One funny thing connected to that hectic lifestyle is that Cristina collects all her flight boarding cards, saying that one day it will be nice to see and to show others how much she’s traveled in her life. And, in terms of the apps she uses regularly, apart from Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Twitter, she’s also been using an app named Master Tour, which she considers very helpful for whoever does her type of job, keeping you updated on tours and schedules like a tour book in your smartphone. Hence, if you’re a touring musician, why not trying the same app as the successful Cristina Scabbia, right?

Lastly, when asked if she considers herself a role model for young girls, she said she doesn’t see herself as one but that all the love she gets from fans when she’s on the road makes her sometimes believe she might be indeed an inspiration for all of them. She always tells them that they have to believe in themselves because, no matter what, it is impossible to make everyone happy, so the key is to make ourselves happy and conscious of our own unique potential, with her motto in life being “live in the present and make it beautiful. I never think too much about the past or the future. The past is… gone and we will never be able to plan the future the perfect way.’’ What do you think about Cristina and her way of life? Do you agree with what she does and thinks in music and life in general? Well, there are tons of interesting interviews and videos of Cristina online to help you know more about her, such as this one from Loudwire called Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?, where she even tells if her highest note being an A7 is true or not. It seems that the world of heavy music and also the whole cyberworld can never get enough of the one and only Italian stunner Cristina Scabbia (without an “h”, per favore).

Cristina Scabbia’s Official Facebook page
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Twitter
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Instagram
Lacuna Coil’s Official Facebook page
Lacuna Coil’s Official YouTube channel
Lacuna Coil’s Official Instagram

“You have to sing with your heart, you have to sing with passion, you have to be sincere in what you’re singing, and you have to be totally convinced of what you’re doing. Most of all, you have to realize that this is a hard job that not everyone can take, so don’t look at the shiny part only, because there is a lot of work involved and a lot of sacrifice, so be ready for that as well..” – Cristina Scabbia

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Concert Review – Megadeth & Scorpions (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 09/22/2017)

The city of Toronto was beautifully taken by storm by two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock on the last day of the summer, and the result was absolutely fantastic.

OPENING ACT: Megadeth

When this Crazy World Tour 2017 was announced a few months ago, I instantly thought about how amazing it would be to witness on the same night two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock playing some of their biggest classics (as well as a few newer songs) at what’s in my humble opinion one of the best and most pleasant venues in the world to watch any type of concert (and I’ve been to several different ones in distinct parts of the world), the Torontonian amphitheater now known as Budweiser Stage. Well, it was even better than anyone could have expected, with the combination of two bands full of energy and excited to please the crowd, thousands of fans eager for some rockin’ music, and a weather that, for the very last day of summer, was beyond perfect, making the whole night truly memorable.

As the opening act, or maybe I should call them co-headliners as they’re not your average band, we had the absolute pleasure of enjoying American Thrash/Speed Metal heroes MEGADETH. Spearheaded by the unstoppable Mr. Dave Mustaine, Megadeth were still promoting their latest installment, the excellent Dystopia, released last year, but only one song from the album (its title-track) was played during the show. The setlist was pretty much a selection of their biggest hits with a huge focus on their 1990 masterpiece Rust In Piece, kicking off the concert with the blazing Hangar 18, and also featuring from that classic album the hits Take No Prisoners, Tornado of Souls (my favorite of the show) and, closing their performance, a song that needs no introduction, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.

And obviously “Megadave” and his henchmen David Ellefson, Kiko Loureiro (who proved to be the guitarist Mustaine needed by his side) and Dirk Verbeuren played every song to perfection, with the background screen complementing the music in a fun and exciting manner. For instance, the Nascar images used as a background for Mechanix and the official video for Dystopia (another fantastic moment of the show) played while the band executed the song were spot-on to keep the fans mesmerized and in total sync with the band. In addition, everyone at the venue singing the power ballad A Tout Le Monde guided by Mustaine was just beautiful, and the smile on his face after that moment was awesome. Now, as usual, let’s patiently wait until we can see such distinct band performing live again in our beautiful Toronto.

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Mechanix
Take No Prisoners
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Tornado of Souls
Dystopia
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead guitars, rhythm guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, backing vocals
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

SCORPIONS

If the venue wasn’t fully packed during Megadeth’s kick-ass performance, things changed considerably a few minutes before German Hard Rock institution SCORPIONS hit the stage with their flawless setlist, but before the concert started I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with other fans close to where I was (which was right in front of the stage), in special one father with his 13-year old son. The name of the boy is T Bone Bentley, he’s a very talented drummer who loves metal and rock, and you can check him smashing his drums on his official YouTube channel (together with his dad), playing songs like Iron Maiden’s all-time classic “Run to the Hills” and Judas Priest’s metal anthem “Breaking the Law”. When I see little fellas like T Bone and their passion for heavy music, my hope for a better future for mankind gets renovated, so don’t waste your time and go check his YouTube videos. They’re surely going to make your day a lot better.

Back to the concert, it was around 8:30pm when the iconic vocalist Klaus Meine, the flammable guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker, the talented bassist Paweł Mąciwoda and the one and only drummer Mikkey Dee hit the stage with an avalanche of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll hits, starting with a fantastic song from their 2015 album Return to Forever, the rockin’ Going Out With a Bang, already showing the night was going to be insanely fun. Let’s say that the first part of the show worked more like a “warm-up”, with the band jamming and rocking nonstop, generating a very good vibe and showing why they’re still alive and kicking after so many decades on the road. That first segment of the show had as its highlights the classic The Zoo, the fairly new but amazing We Built This House, and from their mini-acoustic set (including a weird but useful drum kit by Mikkey) I would say the touching ballad Send Me an Angel definitely stole the spotlight.

After that, Mr. Klaus Meine simply introduced one of the band’s biggest and most beautiful classics, Wind of Change, obviously hypnotizing all of us with the song’s renowned whistling, followed by another sensational new song titled Rock ‘n’ Roll Band and their awesome tribute to the most badass rocker that this world will ever see, Lemmy Kilmister, playing a cover version of Motörhead’s hit Overkill. Right after that, Mikkey offered us all an amazing drum solo (which put the little T Bone into a state of pure ecstasy), while the rest of the band was getting ready for a flawless Hard Rock attack comprised of nothing more, nothing less than Blackout, Big City Nights, No One Like You, Still Loving You (what a lovely moment of the show!) and Rock You Like a Hurricane. What else can you ask for, right?

Before this review of the show is over, I just wanted to mention two things that truly caught my attention during the concert, one in a very positive way, while the other was quite sad.  First, I was completely impressed with the fact that Mr. Rudolf Schenker is almost 70 years old and he keeps running frantically around the stage, screaming and interacting with the fans, and playing his guitar as if he was in his early 30’s. That was plain awesome, and definitely an inspiration for me and lots of other fans on how you can get old but remain young at heart, enjoying life until the end (just like Lemmy did, by the way). On the other hand, while Mr. Schenker was a role model to all of us, there were a few spoiled bi… I mean, girls, that thought that just because they’re (still) young and pretty they can do whatever they want, including being rude, disrespectful and annoying to anyone around them. One of them was so disrespectful to a guy next to me, elbowing him and pretending he was harassing her, to the point everyone close to that scene even stooped enjoying the concert for a few moments until security finally (and fortunately) took that stupid Barbie doll away. I hope when she gets old, and she will, she learns how to be a better person and how to respect other people. Well, Little T Bone is only 13 and he already knows how to behave in a rock and metal concert, as well as other kids that attended the show with their parents. It’s just a matter of learning what true respect is at home, right? And I hope that next time Scorpions take Toronto by storm with another faultless performance like that, that irksome girl is somewhere else, like at a Justin Bieber concert. Let the real bands for the real fans, lady.

Setlist
Intro
Going Out With a Bang
Make It Real
The Zoo
Coast to Coast
Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train
We Built This House
Delicate Dance (with Ingo Powitzer)
Always Somewhere / Eye of the Storm / Send Me an Angel
Wind of Change
Rock ‘n’ Roll Band
Overkill (Motörhead cover)
Drum Solo
Blackout
Big City Nights

Encore:
No One Like You
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane

Band members
Klaus Meine – lead vocals
Matthias Jabs – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars
Rudolf Schenker – rhythm guitars, lead guitars, backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass guitar
Mikkey Dee – drums

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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”

Album Review – Droid / Terrestrial Mutations (2017)

An extraterrestrial three-pronged sonic organism has just landed in Canada, bringing new sounds of degradation and alienation to all admirers of the more technical and progressive versions of Thrash Metal.

In the city of Brampton, located in the peripheral suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, resides a three-pronged sonic organism known as Droid. Though conceived in 2012, it has been the amalgamation of years of shows, rehearsing and writing that has led to the fully realized aural representation of their efforts in their 2017 debut album, titled Terrestrial Mutations. And this Canadian Sci-Fi Thrash Metal entity is more than ready to present to fans of renowned acts such as Voivod, Megadeth, Annihilator and Anthrax, among many other bands known for blending aggressiveness and dexterity in a compelling way, an amazing alternative in the world of underground thrash.

Since their inception, Droid already released the demo Malfunction, in 2013, and an untitled promo in 2014, followed by the six-track EP Disconnected, in 2015, but it’s with Terrestrial Mutations that the power trio comprised of Jacob Montgomery on vocals and guitar, Chris Riley on bass and Sebastian Alcamo on drums reached a much higher level of speed and harmony, bringing new sounds of degradation and alienation to all admirers of the more technical and progressive versions of Thrash Metal. However, if you’re a fan of old school thrash, don’t think that they’ll sound too modern for your ears, as they always keep their sonority deeply inspired by the foundations of the genre.

For instance, the piercing guitar sounds by Jacob welcome the listener to the Sci-Fi world of Droid in the opening track Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows), where the band delivers old school Thrash Metal with Sebastian pounding his drums mercilessly throughout the entire song. In Suspended Animation, we face lots of groove flowing from the guitar by Jacob and the bass by Chris, bringing those “dancing and slamming” elements from the music by Suicidal Tendencies as well as lyrics that couldn’t sound more thrashier than this (“Cold saline injected / straight through the heart / drained of blood given / hours to restart”); whereas in Abandoned Celestial State we’re treated to a fast and groovy start with a Blues-ish vibe led by Sebastian with his beats, generating a fun and interesting ambience for Jacob to declaim the song’s lyrics in a rabid manner. In a nutshell, this excellent tune offers the listener a well-balanced mix of Thrash and Groove Metal, and just like a Sci-Fi movie it follows a “script”, ending in a dark and somewhat apocalyptic way.

The title-track Terrestrial Mutation brings forward almost 10 minutes of 80’s-inspired Thrash Metal, starting with a somber, eerie intro before Jacob comes ripping with his riffs until the musicality reaches a very melodic shape. However, the song loses its grip mainly due to its length, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of good stuff to enjoy such as the low-tuned metallic bass lines by Chris and the song’s more progressive pieces. Fortunately, a piano intro presents to the listener another harmonious and visceral creation by Droid, titled Pain Of Reincarnation, where Jacob, Chirs and Sebastian put all the potency of their instruments together to generate a truly exciting sounding, feeling like Thrash Metal with Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock elements, which turns it into one of the top moments of the album for sure. And in Temptations Of Terminal Progress the band fires an electrified feast of riffs, harsh and demented growls and pounding beats, also presenting interesting breaks and traditional thrashing lyrics (“The soothsayers learning / it’s best not to reveal what / he knew / the bones they are burning / for the means for the many / not the few”), morphing into a display of progressiveness mixed with elements from Blues and Jazz at times.

The rumbling bass lines by Chris and the fierce beats by Sebastian dictate the rhythm in the high-octane and electrifying tune Cosmic Debt, an old school Thrash Metal chant that will certainly ignite some good circle pits with highlights to the deranged vocals by Jacob à la Paul Baloff; followed by Excommunicated, a lot slower than its predecessors but still heavy and groovy, with Jacob delivering some cutting guitar riffs while Sebastian keeps smashing his drums effectively. The song never really takes off though, falling flat after a while, but at least the closing song, Mission Drift, with its over 10 minutes of music, showcases all the band’s passion for progressive and heavy sounds, with the bass punches by Chris sounding truly awesome. This is the perfect depiction of Progressive Thrash Metal, bringing intricate guitars and drums, and obviously keeping the stamina and complexity at a very high level until it fades into a somber, wicked conclusion.

The extraterrestrial thrashers from Droid can be better examined at their Facebook page, while Terrestrial Mutations can be purchased at their own BandCamp page, at the Nightbreaker Productions webshop, at the Hells Headbangers webshop, at the Temple of Mistery Records webshop, or at Discogs. As you can see, the music by Droid truly exists and is easy to find (as opposed to ETs), so if I were you I would support such promising power trio by buying their album, in order to ensure their future endeavors become a reality and keep their Sci-Fi soundings as thunderous as possible, piercing our metallic minds.

Best moments of the album: Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows), Abandoned Celestial State, Pain Of Reincarnation and Cosmic Debt.

Worst moments of the album: Terrestrial Mutation and Excommunicated.

Released in 2017 Nightbreaker Productions

Track listing
1. Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows) 4:58
2. Suspended Animation 3:26
3. Abandoned Celestial State 7:30
4. Terrestrial Mutation 9:56
5. Pain Of Reincarnation 6:36
6. Temptations Of Terminal Progress 8:00
7. Cosmic Debt 4:10
8. Excommunicated 6:45
9. Mission Drift 10:43

Band members
Jacob Montgomery – vocals, guitar
Chris Riley – bass
Sebastian Alcamo – drums

Interview – Andreas Slocinski (Stone Cadaver)

Andreas Slocinski, the talented bass player for Danish Stoner Rock/Metal power trio Stone Cadaver, talks to The Headbanging Moose about the band’s brand new album Reject Remove Replace, their passion for the music from the 70’s and all things metal, and the flourishing metal scene in Denmark, among other topics, in one of our most interesting interviews ever.

Andreas Slocinski (Stone Cadaver)

The Headbanging Moose: Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers? Who are Stone Cadaver, how was the band formed, what’s your goal with your music, and any other details you want to share with us about the band?

Andreas Slocinski (Stone Cadaver): Stone Cadaver is a Danish stoner metal threepiece from Aarhus, Denmark. The gentlemen that wield the instruments and compose the music are Anders Bech Nielsen (guitar and vocals), Jesper Hauptmann (drums) and yours truly, Andreas Slocinski, on bass. The band’s history is relatively short, so it’s easy to sum up. Stone Cadaver rose from the ashes of Chosen Legacy, a metal cover band that featured all of us. It was fun and all, but eventually we all got fed up with playing other people’s stuff, so we decided to abandon Chosen Legacy and start focusing on writing our own material in an attempt to satisfy our creative need. That was back in 2014. Chosen Legacy was all about thrash and groove metal (we played songs by Pantera, Slayer, even Cannibal Corpse), but none of us were interested in writing that kind of music, and, as it turned out, we all harbored a secret desire to play some dirty, 70s inspired stonerish metal, so we just said to each other, “hey, let’s give it a shot and see what happens”, and started jamming on a few riffs. The first song we wrote was “Black Magick” off the self-titled EP, and things just started growing from thereon. As for the goal or purpose of Stone Cadaver, well, it’s just to have a good time and write some cool music. We don’t plan to make a living from it, we’re too old for that now, but the idea of creating music and performing it under the moniker of Stone Cadaver, a beast that’s totally our own creation, appeals to us very much, and it’s definitely a cool way to spend your spare time.

THM: How was the writing and recording process of your new album, Reject Remove Replace, and what’s the main difference between it and your debut self-titled EP from 2014?

AS: RRR differs musically from the EP in a lot of ways, although there are also a lot of similarities. The EP is more doomy and, perhaps, slightly more metal overall. RRR is more dirty and fresh. We have always tried, though, to mix the 70s with more modern elements to create some varied music, and although RRR is more varied than the EP that whole idea of mixing newer and older stuff in an effort to create some exciting material that stays interesting to the listener throughout, is sort of the red thread that runs through all our compositions. I am into bands like Electric Wizard and I always to try to get some really heavy, slow stuff into the stew. Anders digs bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and likes to add faster paced stuff akin to those bands to the recipe. The end result is almost always a compromise and thus amalgamation of all those things, heavy, doomy elements coupled with faster parts. Naturally, all of us love Black Sabbath, and the mantra WWBSD (What Would Black Sabbath Do?) act as a sort of litmus test if we’re stuck in a song and don’t know how to finish it or get from one part to the next. Ah, that might be a stretch, but Sabbath are very important to all of us and most definitely act as a shared key inspiration. The album was recorded over a week or so at our old rehearsal space, which we shared with another band, Magnified Eye, probably one of the oldest Danish stoner bands. Torben Egebjerg, lead singer and guitarist in the ol’ Eye, recorded and produced the songs in collaboration with us. A guy named Michael Larsen, who’s been part of the local music scene as a booker and all-round technical guy for many years, helped us get the sound of the instruments just right for the recording. The album was then mixed by Stefan Krey, who also plays in Magnified Eye. He has another band, Alkymist, which is a new name on the Danish metal scene. It’s progressive doom metal and very cool. Definitely worth checking out! Lastly, the album was mastered by James Plotkin. We chose him, because he worked on Electric Wizard’s “Time To Die”, so if he’s good enough for the Wizard, he’s good enough for us. A very helpful and cool guy!

THM: In our review for Reject Remove Replace, we quoted a sentence from you stating it’s a concept album, with the concept being “a unified, musical whole”. Can you elaborate more on that? Why do you consider it a concept album? What’s the main storyline that guides the album from start to finish?

Album Review – Stone Cadaver / Reject Remove Replace (2017)

AS: It’s true that we call it a concept album, but it’s not a concept album in the sense that there’s an overarching storyline or theme guiding everything. Albums from the 60s and 70s are often as good as they are, because a lot them work as albums. Today, there’s a tendency to just slap a bunch of songs together without really paying much attention to how they work in relation to each other and the album as a whole. We wanted to create an album that really works as an album, and not just a collection of songs. To this effect, RRR was actually only intended to be released on vinyl, because we “designed” it for vinyl, and because vinyl, at least as far as we are concerned, is a superior way of enjoying an album. An example of what we mean when we say that it was designed for vinyl is the small instrumental interlude “Ruins In The Sand” at the end of side A, a short, atmospheric piece with acoustic guitars. This segment is very different from the preceding and following songs, which have a lot more bang for the buck. “Ruins” was placed at the end of side A very intentionally. As you know, once the A-side is finished, you have to lift the vinyl, flip the disc over and lower the pickup in order to start the B-side. While you’re doing this, there’s obviously no music playing. “Ruins” ends softly, so you could argue that it actually segues into the musical void that accompanies the lifting and flipping of the disc. Likewise, the B-side also ends on a soft note with the instrumental piece “Omega”, which is part 2 of the song “Dead Horses, pts. I & II”. The soft endings of both sides create unity and bind both sides together nicely, we think. This obviously doesn’t work as well on the CD. Combined with the varied nature of the rest of the songs themselves, the album, as a whole, has the feel of one those good albums from the 70s. That’s the intention, anyways. Hopefully, there are people out there who have picked up on it.

THM: The official video for the opening track of the album, the heavy and groovy Sscum, is in my humble opinion really entertaining, just like those old low-budget, catchy-as-hell horror and suspense movies from the 70’s and 80’s. Can you tell us more about the story behind the song and how you decided to shoot the video? Will there be a sequel for it?

AS: We’re glad you like the video and that you dig the 70s low-budget vibe, because that kind of vibe was exactly what writer/director Ulrik Haenschke was aiming for. The lyrical content of the song and the storyline in the video actually have nothing in common. The song is about neo-nazis and how fucking stupid they are, but it wasn’t important to us or Ulrik that the video dealt with that topic at all. Ulrik was involved in the video for Magnified Eye’s “Legion”, which was done very professionally and we all liked it, so Anders chatted him up at a concert, and, as it turned out, Ulrik was interested in doing a video for “Sscum”. He had heard the song at one of our gigs and, basically, wrote the entire script in his head right there on the spot. For some reason, he envisioned this psycho redneck in a really cool car who picks up a hot blonde that he brings home to kill in a twisted, misguided attempt to get back at his girlfriend, who left him because he cheated on her. A pretty simple plot, but very effective nonetheless. The entire process was one of those things where everything just came together very smoothly. Ulrik wrote the script, consulted with us, auditioned the actors and procured all the equipment, lamps, cameras etc. He’s attending some sort of film school and he did the video for a project, which enabled him to use all the equipment for free. Otherwise, it would have been an extremely expensive shoot. The camera alone, a Red which is the same kind of camera used by Peter Jackson on “The Hobbit”, costs between 60-80,000 CAD, so if we had had to rent it, it would have been costly. We also got hold of the car, a ‘69 Torino, for free (thank you Susan!). The video was shot over the course of two weekends in a barn close to Aarhus. The exterior shots were also done not too far away. Ulrik then spent a few weeks editing the material and in late 2016 we were able to premiere it at a local hard rock and metal bar. It was a fun and drunken night. There’s no plan for a sequel, but, you know what, none of us has thought about making one, and it might actually just be a very cool thing to do. Let’s see what happens …

THM: Talking about heavy music made in your gorgeous homeland Denmark, the average metalhead usually knows only the classic metal by King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, and more recently the hybrid of metal and rock by Volbeat, but no other Danish bands are part of his regular playlist. With that said, how’s the current Heavy Metal scene in Denmark? Is the scene getting stronger, with new bands booming all over the country, or do you feel it’s stagnated like in many other countries?

AS: The metal scene in Denmark is alive and thriving. It may not be booming per se, but it’s definitely not on the decline. Denmark is a small country, but we have a lot of metal festivals, Copenhell, Aalborg Metalfestival, Metal Royale, Metal Magic to name some of the bigger ones, and there are metal concerts in almost all Danish cities, big and small. That being said, it’s not always easy to land gigs, for some reason. You really have to put a lot of effort into landing gigs and it’s boring work.

THM: Which new bands from Denmark do you recommend to our listeners? It can be in the same Stoner Metal and Rock vein as Stone Cadaver, or any other style like Black Metal, Metalcore or Power Metal. How bright do you think the future is for those bands?

AS: There are loads of Danish bands. Some cool names to check out are the curly haired troupe of death metal jugglers in BAEST. They are definitely on the rise, and will probably make it big. Bersærk is another band who also enjoys a lot of success. They sing in Danish and call their music “hedningehegn”, which is a pretty cool, self-invented word for “pagan noise” (that’s probably what comes closest). Alkymist, as mentioned before, are definitely also worth checking out as are Magnified Eye. Currently, there’s talk of a New Wave Of Danish Black Metal spearhedead by bands such as Myrkur, Solbrud and Orm. They are also very worthy of your attention, if black metal is your thing. An older black metal band, or black n roll, is Horned Almighty, which you may have heard of. Smaller interesting names include Disrule, Fusskalt, Drön, ThunerWhip, Impalers and Fordærv.

Stone Cadaver

THM: In regards to your influences and idols in music, what would be your top metal or even non-metal artists and albums, the ones that have a strong influence in the music by Stone Cadaver, that helped shape your musicality and fuel your creativity?

AS: As previously mentioned, Ozzy-era Black Sabbath is a major shared influence. On a more individual level, Anders always cites Alice In Chains and Jerry Cantrell as some of his key influences. “Dirt” ranks really high on his personal list of faves as does Deep Purple’s “Fireball”. Jesper is in love with Iron Maiden and Satyricon. Frost’s drumming in particular on “Nemesis Divina”, one of Jesper’s top favorite albums, has had a major impact on his playing as can be heard on RRR. My own main influences include Geezer Butler, Steve Harris and Jaco Pastorius and some of my all-time favorite bands include Electric Wizard and Pink Floyd. All of us dig all kinds of metal and rock, though. It’s important to listen to a lot of music, when you’re in a band, so we try to keep our minds and ears open.

THM: What about your current tour dates to promote Reject Remove Replace? How have the concerts been so far? In addition, as the summer is considered “festival season” all over Europe, have you guys been able to play any major or even smaller festivals, and if so, how was the experience? Did you play alongside any of your music idols in any of those festivals?

AS: We actually haven’t played a lot of gigs in 2017 so far. We played three in May and we don’t have anything planned until October. Jesper recently became a dad for the first time, so that naturally put a dampener on things, but we’re slowly starting to get the gears grinding again. The 2017 gigs we’ve played so far, however, have been cool. We played the inaugural Children Of The Sun festival in Copenhagen, two days of stoner, doom and space rock. We shared the stage with bands such as Dead Witches, Yuri Gagarin and Dopelord. We opened the second day to a rather small crowd and the sun was baking through some overhead windows, so it was not the easiest of gigs, but it was fun and we had a swell time afterwards, drinking with some of the other bands. Dead Witches in particular was a fun crowd to hang with and we would love to meet with them again at another festival or concert at some point. In October we’ll play Copenhagen again with Drön and French band Dot Legacy. We are working on landing gigs for 2018 and so far things are looking bright.

THM: What’s next for Stone Cadaver after the Reject Remove Replace tour is over? As Stoner Rock and Metal is a type of music widely appreciated in North America and in the UK, do you have any plans to further explore those regions in a not-so-distant future with perhaps a combined tour with a well-established band?

AS: We have started writing material for a new album, but it’ll be some time before we’ll get to record anything. The album will be fucking killer! As for touring outside of Denmark, that’s definitely something we’d love to do. There are no plans yet, though, but hopefully, one day, we’ll get a chance to go on a smaller tour abroad with some other bands. As previously stated, we handle all the booking ourselves, so putting together a “world tour” would be quite taxing. A booking agency might be worth considering at some point, but right now that’ll have to wait.

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, we really appreciate that. Please feel free to send a final message to our readers in Canada and all over the world.

AS: Thanks for taking your time to read this interview. Remember to keep the underground alive and support the bands you like by buying their albums and not downloading them.

Links
Stone Cadaver Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | BandCamp

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 – Olde / Temple (2017)

Putting society and personality in its crosshairs, attacking the traits that make people hide behind various masks in order to survive, here comes a Canadian Doom Metal brigade ready to crush our skulls with their heavy-as-hell new album.

Inspired by a recording session with long-time Stoner Metal stalwarts Sons of Otis, guitarist and producer Greg Dawson (Cunter, Grift, BWC Studios) began to handpick and assemble Canadian Doom/Stoner Metal brigade Olde, emphasizing a powerful and economic approach to doom music. Enlisting the help of drummer Ryan Aubin (Sons of Otis), bassist Cory McCallum (Five Knuckle Chuckle), guitarist Chris “Hippy” Hughes (Moneen) and vocalist Doug McLarty (Jaww), this Malton-based band began to take form, releasing their debut full-length album simply titled I, in 2014, followed by the EP Shallow Graves, in 2016.

Always true to their heavy, bludgeoning roots, Olde are back in 2017 with a brand new full-length instalment, the pungent and resonant Temple, an album where Olde put society and personality in its crosshairs, attacking the traits that make people hide behind various masks in order to survive, and how the ranks of the disguised, with their ulterior motives, aren’t exacting worried about the average Joe in their quest for self-preservation and “progress”. Olde’s sound has also grown since the band’s inception, encompassing more abstraction and harmony, whilst never forgetting to bludgeon their fans, as needed, with riff after riff, driven by the sophisticated-caveman drums of Aubin and the harsh, yet always clear, vocals of lyricist McLarty. Featuring an eye-catching artwork by Joshua Wilkinson, Temple will undoubtedly punch you in the face with all its doomed strength, like it or not.

Heavy, sluggish and thunderous from the very first second thanks to the amazing stringed trio comprised of Chris, Greg and Cory, the opening track Subterfuge is an excellent Doom and Stoner Metal composition, bringing the best elements of both genres to our avid ears, but it’s when Doug begins vociferating the lyrics that things get really dark and serious (“The blood you seek is out there, / On the frayed edges of town / Just point your boots, and follow… / Your rotten heart”). Ryan kicks off the following tune, the obscure Now I See You, with his pounding, damned beats, before Doug offers more of his grumpy and raspy vocals perfect for the music being played. Furthermore, I love when it’s possible to listen to those metallic bass punches like the ones blasted by Cory due to the album’s crisp production, but of course without losing the band’s amazing rawness. Also, if I were you, I would check Olde playing this excellent song at the NP music studio for the National Post Sessions, in order to fully enjoy the band’s catchy sonority and refined technique.

The Ghost Narrative is an excellent depiction of the most sluggish and deranged form of Stoner Metal, where Chris and Greg are kicking ass on guitars with their riffs and solos in an overdose of heaviness flowing from all instruments, which is also present in Doug’s enraged vocals; followed by the title-track Temple, the longest of all songs, starting in a somber manner through the bass sounds crafted by Cory and quickly morphing into a neck-breaking Sludge and Stoner Metal hymn. Its hostile sounding, led by the beats by Ryan, only gets more belligerent when joined by the vocals by Doug, hitting you hard and mercilessly until its dark ending. And increasing their aggressiveness and speed, Centrifugal Disaster presents modern and poetic lyrics (“The world heaves under the weight of our existence / A population siphoned from, stretched beyond all reason / Exploit everything for a fraction of what it’s worth / Rallying cry of modern Man: / Give me convenience, or give me Death”), piercing guitars and rumbling bass lines boosted by the intricate drumming by Ryan, culminating in a Stoner Metal extravaganza highly recommended for fans of the genre.

Bringing hints of Southern Rock and old school Rock N’ Roll, Maelstrom reminds me of some of the classic tunes by Down, with highlights to the excellent job done once again by Chris and Greg on guitars. Put differently, this is a song perfect for enjoying a cold beer and banging your head vigorously together with the band, presenting an excellent guitar solo at the end as the icing on the cake. And lastly, closing the album Olde brings forward an ode to darkness titled Castaway, reaching deep into our most deviant thoughts. This low-tuned and slow composition is led by the potent drumming by Ryan and the rabid, deep growls by Doug, while the rest of the band makes sure the atmosphere remains as cold-hearted, gloomy and unhappy as possible.

You can always keep up to date with everything Olde are doing, including their tour dates (especially if you live in the Greater Toronto Area), by following them on Facebook, and purchase your copy of Temple through their BandCamp page, the STB Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or the Medusa Crush Recordings’ BandCamp page. Temple is not only a top-notch album of Stoner and Doom Metal made in Canada, but it also cements Olde’s name in the Canadian independent scene, opening the doors for the band to reach new heights and to properly explore new markets in a not-so-distant future, like the United States and the UK, where their music style is extremely appreciated. And, of course, to support Olde in their mission to crush everyone’s head with their heavy-as-hell damned music wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Subterfuge, Now I See You and Centrifugal Disaster.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 STB Records/Medusa Crush Recordings

Track listing
1. Subterfuge 4:06
2. Now I See You 4:27
3. The Ghost Narrative 4:17
4. Temple 7:48
5. Centrifugal Disaster 5:04
6. Maelstrom 6:16
7. Castaway 7:05

Band members
Doug McLarty – vocals
Chris Hughes – guitars
Greg Dawson – guitars
Cory McCallum – bass
Ryan Aubin – drums, guitar solo on “Maelstrom”

Guest musician
Simon Talevski – guitar solo on “Castaway”

 

Album Review – Floating Widget / The Sounds of Earth EP (2017)

One of the most celebrated bands from the Canadian independent scene is finally back in action after 13 years with an electrifying EP of old school Stoner Rock and Metal.

One of the most celebrated bands from the independent rock and metal scene from Montreal is finally back in action after 13 years with brand new material and the same rebellious attitude that made then famous among the Québécois fans of alternative music. I’m talking about Stoner Rock/Metal druids Floating Widget, who are ready to crush with their new EP The Sounds of Earth, their first original release since their 2004 debut album Praises To The Riff Monolith and a lesson in how our good old Rock N’ Roll sounds even better when the right amount of extra heaviness, speed and groove is added to the music.

Formed by vocalist and bassist Vincent Peake, who’s also the founder of the first Alternative Rock band in Quebec called Groovy Aardvark (which existed between 1986 and 2005) and who also played with bands such as GrimSkunk, Sabbath Café and even Voivod, Floating Widget are more than ready to regain their momentum with The Sounds of Earth, playing in the renowned Montebello RockFest this year with Queens of the Stone Age, Rammstein, At the Drive In, The Offspring, and many other bands, and there’s no secret formula for the band receiving all that love from the underground scene. Featuring a classy artwork displaying a “ceramic astronaut” by artist Brett Kern, The Sounds Of Earth exhales pure Stoner Rock and Rock N’ Roll, getting straight to the point without any shenanigans or artificial elements.

Vicent and his crew don’t waste a single second and begin blasting piercing Rock N’ Roll that will put everyone to dance in the opening track Rock & Roll Jubilee, just like in its official video, with guitarists Alex Leclerc and Stéphane Vigeant exhaling pure electricity through their metallic strings. And their guitars ignite another rockin’ chant, titled Psy Walker, with Vicent not only delivering awesome harsh vocals but also thunderous and groovy bass punches, while Matt Demon makes everything more rhythmic and appealing with his beats. Matt keeps the momentum going by kicking off the Stoner Rock tune I Am the Temple, with hints of Rockabilly and Hard Rock added to its upbeat rhythm, also showcasing another great performance by Vincent on vocals, as well as the perfect sync between Alex and Stéphane with their riffs.

Groovier and more melodic, Albatross (Nobody Loves an) is a solid Stoner Rock and Metal chant with a Blues-ish twist where Matt delivers some traditional, steady and sluggish beats while Vincent tells one of those fun, odd stories only found in this type of music. In other words, this is a song highly recommended for banging your head while enjoying a cold beer during the band’s live performances. And lastly, featuring the iconic Snake from Voivod as a guest vocalist, we have the very rhythmic and modern Stoner Metal tune Spiderzilla closing the EP on a high note, with longtime friends Vincent and Snake making a great vocal duo (which ends up enhancing the song’s taste even more), not to mention Vincent’s low-tuned rumbling bass.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 13 years for Floating Widget to release new material, because based on the amazing quality of the music found in The Sounds of Earth (which can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify), Vincent and his crew have all it takes to quickly reclaim their status as one of the most electrifying names in the underground rock and metal scene hailing from Quebec, and to remain sitting in their throne of Rock N’ Roll for many years to come. And if you live in Quebec or by any chance are going to visit the province anytime soon, keep an eye on their Facebook page for their live dates and all things Floating Widget. You can purchase The Sounds of Earth in digital format through the band’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon, as well as the cassette version through the GBS Records’ BandCamp page, with this version bringing on its second side 19 minutes of the famous recordings named “Sounds Of Earth” that NASA sent into space aboard Voyager 1 in 1977.

Best moments of the album: Rock & Roll Jubilee and I Am the Temple.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing 
1. Rock & Roll Jubilee 2:52
2. Psy Walker 3:16
3. I Am the Temple 3:26
4. Albatross (Nobody Loves an) 4:05
5. Spiderzilla (feat. Snake) 2:40

Band members
Vincent Peake – vocals, bass
Alex Leclerc – guitar
Stéphane Vigeant – guitar
Matt Demon – drums

Guest musician
Snake – additional vocals on “Spiderzilla”

Album Review – In a Testube / Immigration Anthems (2017)

Embark on the alternative voyage proposed by four skillful musicians from Greece, full of contrasting and groovy sounds, modern day-inspired lyrics and an energetic attitude.

With live appearances in a multitude of festivals and cities across Greece, Greek Alternative Metal act In a Testube has already shared the stage in their career with influential artists of the local and international scene such as Devil Wears Prada, Rotting Christ, Jane Doe and Need. Fans have described the band’s music as an amalgam of different styles, approaching the soundscape of Korn, Nine Inch Nails, System Of a Down, A Perfect Circle, Alice in Chains and Gojira, with the occasional inclusion of experimental touches which fuse American alternative styles to the more melodic approach of European artists.

Hailing from the city of Thessaloníki, In a Testube were conceived as a group in 1999 by friends and producers Dennis Konstantinidis and Theo Arabatzis, who together recorded a demo during the summer of that same year. The band even built a studio for the recording and production of their debut album Eleven, which took place between May 2005 and January 2006. Now in 2017, with a solid lineup comprised of Dennis Konstantinidis on vocals and guitar, Panos Papadopoulos on guitar, Petros Kabanis on bass and Konstantinos Mentesidis on drums, In a Testube are releasing an entertaining album of fresh metal and rock music entitled Immigration Anthems, featuring a clever artwork designed by guitarist Panos himself (who’s also known as “PeeAy”) and nothing less than thirteen compositions full of alternative and groovy sounds, modern day-inspired lyrics and an energetic attitude by all band members.

“God made man in his own image.” It’s with these words that the band kicks off the opening track, entitled Believe, slowly building the music by adding element after element until it reaches its final rockin’ rhythm and electrified vibe, with Dennis bringing some rebelliousness to the musicality with his raspy vocals. Sounding more contemporary and alternative, In the End is a mid-tempo Rock N’ Roll composition where the bass lines by Petros and the steady beats by Konstantinos dictate the rhythm; followed by C.I.C.O., the acronym for “Change Is Coming On”, a song about the need to change the way we do everything (“Tell me one thing / what could get worse? / It feels like we are cursed / with this darkness in you / the more, the worse is for you / No one showed us the line / and we are screwed big time / with the things that we do / I feel I have to change”). It’s definitely darker and heavier than the previous tunes thanks to the metallic riffs by Dennis and his bandmate Panos, as well as the always sick low-tuned bass by Petros. And blending modern Hard Rock with alternative elements in the background like what bands such as Dommin usually do, Hey Lilly showcases a great job done by Dennis in his personal “talk” with a woman called Lilly.

In Cloc, one of the heaviest of all songs, we face metallic riffs spiced up with hints of progressiveness, sounding at times like Gojira and Mastodon, with Petros and Konstantinos kicking ass in the band’s “kitchen” while Dennis enhances his aggressiveness on vocals. The radio-friendly tune Limitless begins with an eerie narration before getting truly alternative and electrified, drawing influences from bands like Korn and Linkin Park, with highlights to the precise performance by Dennis on vocals; whereas in Together as Two a promising start suddenly flows into a generic formula that doesn’t know if it’s a ballad or an Alternative Rock song. In other words, its instrumental parts are relatively well-engendered, but the song never really takes off. However, in Lucky Thirteen we’re treated to an eccentric atmosphere and tons of alternative elements added to the musicality, and just like “Limitless” this is a song perfect for some radio exposure, with Konstantinos leading the rhythm with his groovy and potent beats.

This talented Greek quartet keeps delivering top-tier Alternative Rock and Metal through their precise beats and heavy but melodic guitars in Many Things (and after listening to it you’ll have to agree they’re a “hit machine”), but it’s when they get more metal like in Flying Away that they thrive even more. It’s another tune with hints of Progressive Metal, presenting amazing guitar and bass lines, as well as the once again kick-ass beats by Konstantinos. Digital Eyes is a slow-paced, dark creation by In a Testube with the bass by Petros sounding menacing, reminding me a little of some contemporary songs by Metallica in regards to its rhythm, therefore bringing a fresh taste to the album in special due to its beautiful ending. In Slipping Away, the longest and most progressive of all tracks, the band blends elements from Groove Metal and Alternative Rock in a solid way, going from smooth and modern passages to hardcore growls and potent riffs, not to mention Petros’ awesome bass punches and the song’s crazy and innovative last part, morphing into the outro Mythu, which nicely wraps up the musical journey offered by the band.

You can embark on the modern and alternative voyage proposed by In a Testube by following them on Facebook and listening to their music on YouTube or ReverbNation, and purchase Immigration Anthems (which can be enjoyed in full HERE) through the New Dream Records’ webshop, on iTunes or on Amazon. These guys love what they do, they love good music, and it’s just a matter of time until several radio stations not only in Greece but all over the world begin blasting their solid creations through our speakers, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: C.I.C.O., Cloc, Flying Away and Digital Eyes.

Worst moments of the album: Together as Two.

Released in 2017 New Dream Records

Track listing
1. Believe 3:30
2. In the End 3:31
3. C.I.C.O. 4:28
4. Hey Lilly 4:14
5. Cloc 5:52
6. Limitless 5:33
7. Together as Two 5:11
8. Lucky Thirteen 4:13
9. Many Things 4:02
10. Flying Away 4:30
11. Digital Eyes 5:48
12. Slipping Away 6:52
13. Mythu 3:30

Band members
Dennis Konstantinidis – vocals, guitar
Panos Papadopoulos – guitar
Petros Kabanis – bass
Konstantinos Mentesidis – drums 

Guest musician
Nikos Magnisalis – Kavali solo on “Digital Eyes”

Album Review – Stone Cadaver / Reject Remove Replace (2017)

Proudly raising the flag of Stoner Metal high in their beautiful homeland, this Danish power trio delivers a catchy, raw and filthy album inspired by the amazing Hard Rock and Heavy Metal of the 70’s.

Old school proto-metal guitar and gritty, distorted bass combine with fat, organic drums to concoct an evil gumbo of dirty 70’s-inspired stoner riffs, topped off with a few pinches of catchy doom grooves that is bound to fill that empty hole in your stomach. If none of that makes sense to you, it’s because you don’t know Danish Stoner Rock/Metal power trio Stone Cadaver, a band formed in 2013 in the city of Aarhus, Denmark that’s all about heavy and groovy Stoner Metal set within a compositional framework inspired by the Hard Rock and early metal of the 1970’s. Mixing the likes of Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Electric Wizard in their music, the power trio comprised of lead singer and guitarist Anders Bech Nielsen, bassist Andreas Slocinski and drummer Jesper Hauptmann Christensen has finally released their debut album, entitled Reject Remove Replace, an album that was, for all intents and purposes, recorded live in the studio, beautifully crystallizing the band’s raw and filthy sound.

As a whole, Reject Remove Replace comprises the band’s most focused material to date, as explained by Anders. “We have tried to create an album like in the old days. You know, one that you’ll want to listen to from beginning to end. In this regard, you could call it a concept album, the concept being a unified, musical whole.” Despite not being a regular concept album like what several other bands usually do, what Anders says about Reject Remove Replace somehow makes sense, because instead of telling the story of a battle, a specific moment in the history of mankind or a fantasy story based on a book, Stone Cadaver tell the story of the album itself through their music. And if not even after reading all this you have any idea of what Stone Cadaver are, simply listen to the music found in Reject Remove Replace and take your own conclusions about the band and their acid musicality.

The initial riff by Anders in the opening track, titled Sscum, sets the tone for the entire album, being sluggish, dirty and raw. It takes us on a journey back to the 70’s, with Jesper delivering precise heavy beats during the whole song, while its lyrics are as demented as possible (“Misguided cause / On a course to nowhere / The snapping jaws / Of a beast with walleyed stare / You wear the signs / Of genocide and minds’ decay / The six straight lines / You’re so eager to display”). In We Need Your Fucking Blood, Andreas begins smashing his bass mercilessly, emanating a rumbling metallic sound, before the music evolves to a potent blend of Stoner Metal and Rock N’ Roll also presenting soulful guitar solos and a thunderous atmosphere. Moreover, Anders not only kicks ass with his crude riffs, but he also thrives with his psychedelic vocal lines.

Suffer The Scorn brings forward more whimsical words by Stone Cadaver (“The problem is you seem to forget / That time is what you make of it / It’s possible to carve it up / And take command to an extent / But it’s not your fault / Life’s so tough, you can’t help it / To reverse the failure / All I have to do is break the mould”), enhanced by the song’s headbanging, pounding rhythm led by Jesper, while Anders and Andreas keep slashing their strings beautifully. Then we have the instrumental bridge Ruins In The Sand, where acoustic guitars and sharp bass lines warm up the listener for the rockin’ anthem Hands Of Death, with the power trio being simply on fire, blasting cutting riffs and solos, low-tuned bass punches and intricate beats nonstop. Furthermore, the level of acidity and progressiveness in this composition is way above average, with Stone Cadaver providing all that’s needed to break your fuckin’ neck into tiny pieces.

And they still have a lot of Rock N’ Roll fuel to burn, offering the listener more of their piercing Stoner Rock and Metal in Removal Of The Eye, showcasing a high-speed musicality led by Jesper and his unstoppable beats, while Anders and Andreas give a lesson in lunatic guitar and bass sounds. And lastly, Dead Horses (pts. I & II), the longest of all tracks, brings the spirit of a mighty horse inside it,sounding almost tribal at times, with its primeval aura together with the old school Stoner Rock by Stone Cadaver making the whole musical voyage even more interesting. As if the journey wasn’t already crazy enough, the song’s last two and a half minutes are simply a smooth, psychedelic amalgamation of bass and guitar sounds, taking the listener to a different dimension.

Not even the way Stone Cadaver name their instruments is ordinary. Anders is responsible for the “6-String Demonic Vocalizer”, Andreas Slocinski takes care of the “4-String Detuned Low-End Slaughter”, and Jesper is the man behind the “Tactical Assault Battery”, which connects to how crude and visceral their music sounds. If you like to explore the rough grounds of Stoner Metal, Stone Cadaver and their Reject Remove Replace are a highly recommended option, and you can get more details on the band through their Facebook page, listen to their music on YouTube or on Spotify, and grab your copy of the album through their BandCamp page, Record Heaven, Kicktrack Music StoreiTunes or Amazon. And then you might finally understand the purpose of the music by Stone Cadaver, who are definitely raising the flag of Stoner Metal and Rock high in their beautiful homeland.

Best moments of the album: We Need Your Fucking Blood, Hands Of Death and Removal Of The Eye.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 LongLife Records

Track listing
1. Sscum 5:37
2. We Need Your Fucking Blood 6:48
3. Suffer The Scorn 5:16
4. Ruins In The Sand 1:53
5. Hands Of Death 6:32
6. Removal Of The Eye 4:32
7. Dead Horses (pts. I & II) 8:45

Band members
Anders Bech Nielsen – vocals, guitar
Andreas Slocinski – bass
Jesper Hauptmann – drums