Album Review – Secret Rule / Against (2020)

A beautiful album of Symphonic Metal showcasing a collection of songs from romantic and intimate ones to dark and fast tunes, all of them about being overwhelmed in a hurricane of emotions.

Formed at the beginning of 2014 in Rome, Italy with the intention to create a special sound with powerful rhythms and catchy melodies, Symphonic Rock/Metal unity Secret Rule can be considered one of the most hardworking bands of the current Italian scene without a shadow of a doubt, having released nothing more, nothing less than four studio albums since their inception until 2019, or almost one album per year, with the year of 2018 being the only exception to that. After the released of the full-length installments Transposed Emotions, in 2015, Machination, in 2016, The Key to the World, in 2017, and more recently The 7 Endless, in 2019, it’s time for the band spearheaded by the stunning vocalist Angela Di Vincenzo (Kyla Moyl) together with guitarist and keyboardist Andy Menario (Martiria), bassist Michele Raspanti (S.O.S., Graal) and drummer Alex Beccati to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their fifth album, entitled Against, exhaling endless energy, epicness and romance though the band’s feast of heavy riffs, soaring vocals and electronic elements. In other words, you will find all types of songs in Against, from the most romantic, intimate and mellow one to dark, fast and powerful tunes, all of them about being overwhelmed in a hurricane of emotions, exactly how we like it in Symphonic Metal.

The opening track Spira Mirabilis sounds ominous and atmospheric like the soundtrack to a dark horror movie, suddenly exploding into captivating Symphonic Metal led by Angela’s potent vocals who’s always supported by the theatrical performance by her band members, with Andy kicking ass with his wicked keys. And Andy also slashes his strings in great fashion in Shades of Humanity, accompanied by the thunderous bass by Michele while Angela continues to shine on vocals, sounding heavier than its predecessor but at the same time very delicate and also presenting strident guitar solos and never-ending stamina. Then it’s time for Secret Rule to put the pedal to the metal and offer us all a feast of rock and metal sounds in Rise Again, showcasing a great balance between the pounding beats by Alex and the futuristic keys by Andy, while at the same time blending elements from the music by Evanescence, Epica and Lacuna Coil; followed by the more introspective and cryptic Going Nowhere, a song perfect for Angela to steal the spotlight with her dark and sexy vocals amidst the solid and dense musicality blasted by the whole band.

Adding a touch of modernity to their musicality, with hints of Rammstein’s Industrial Metal being thoroughly inserted into its core but still keeping the band’s classic Symphonic Metal intact, of course, Digital Revolution is beyond exciting and vibrant from start to finish, becoming one of the best moments of the album without any doubt. Endless Promises is a radio-friendly tune by Secret Rule spearheaded by Alex’s unstoppable drums while Angela takes her vocals up a notch, sounding and feeling very pleasant right from the very first second, whereas Purgatory is a lot groovier and more demonic thanks to its harsh vocals, building a great paradox with Angela’s angelical voice, not to mention Andy’s flammable solos. Put differently, it will certainly please all fans of the genre, which can also be said about the title-track Against, bringing forward a video game-inspired intro that’s quickly joined by the band’s characteristic riffs and beats, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline.

Deep Solitude sounds a little generic if compared to the rest of the album despite the great job done by Angela on vocals; nothing that would harm the album though, as it can be quite entertaining for many fans, as a matter of fact. Fortunately, they get back on track with Outsiders, another fun composition uniting the electricity of Symphonic Metal with the modern and futuristic nuances of orchestral music, with Andy, Michele and Alex being on absolute fire with their thunderous instruments, while My Last Breath flirts with Alternative Rock and Metal, resulting in a semi-ballad that sounds at the same time very gentle and obscure, with Angela embellishing the airwaves with another passionate vocal performance. And lastly, the keys by Andy dictate the rhythm in the closing tune Don’t Let Me Fade, where Alex pounds his drums potently and Andy injects an extra dosage of electricity to the song’s pace through his always sharp guitar solos.

As already mentioned, Secret Rule are not only an unstoppable, hardworking band hailing form Italy, but their talent is also undeniable as we can all see in their brand new opus Against, and if you want to know more about Angela and the boys you can get in touch with them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to more of their music on Spotify. Also, above all that, don’t forget to preorder your copy of Against from the band’s own webstore in a Special Limited Edition Boxset format, from Record Shop X or from Apple Music, and soon from other locations such as the Pride & Joy Music webstore. Let’s enjoy this fresh and exciting new endeavor by Secret Rule now in 2020, attending their live concerts and raising our horns for such distinct metal act from Italy, and when 20201 comes I’m sure Angela, Andy & Co. will present us with another round of their awesome Symphonic Metal. Because you know, Secret Rule never know when to stop, which in their case is always a very good thing.

Best moments of the album: Spira Mirabilis, Rise Again, Digital Revolution and Outsiders.

Worst moments of the album: Deep Solitude.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Spira Mirabilis 4:03
2. Shades of Humanity 3:29
3. Rise Again 4:37
4. Going Nowhere 4:56
5. Digital Revolution 3:56
6. Endless Promises 3:36
7. Purgatory 3:50
8. Against 4:34
9. Deep Solitude 3:47
10. Outsiders 4:30
11. My Last Breath 3:35
12. Don’t Let Me Fade 3:46

Band members
Angela Di Vincenzo – vocals
Andy Menario – guitars, keys
Michele Raspanti – bass
Alex Beccati – drums

Album Review – ADE / Rise of the Empire (2019)

Armed with their furious and technical Death Metal, they came, they saw and they conquered, beautifully narrating the epic rise of the Roman Empire.

Focusing on the past and the origin of the customs of their homeland Italy, inspired by the ancient Greek music mainly used by Romans in war situations, fusing it with modern Death Metal with lyrics written in English and Latin, and also featuring traditional instruments which give their technical music a strong epic touch, Ancient Roman Death Metal army ADE is back in action with a brand new album entitled Rise of the Empire, aiming at educating the listeners a little more on the ancient history of Rome, more specifically on the age of Caesar. In case you have never heard of ADE before, I highly recommend you grab your sword and shield and get ready to head into the battlefield together with the band, because that’s the only way you can enjoy Rise of the Empire to the fullest.

Produced by Stefano Morabito at 16th Cellar Studios and featuring a stylish artwork by Italian artist Fabio Timpanaro (Storm.Studio), Rise of the Empire is still entrenched in traditional old school Death Metal, however presenting a more mature yet aggressive sound suitable for old and new generations of fans interested in the Ancient Rome and Epic and Technical Death Metal. Now comprised of guitarist and only remaining founding member Fabivs, together with newcomers Diocletianvs on vocals, Nerva on the guitar, Cornelivs on bass and Decivs on drums, this talented band formed in 2007 in Rome is on fire in the follow-up to their 2016 album Carthago Delenda Est, sounding a lot more refined, more pulverizing and, consequently, more exciting than ever.

The cinematic intro Forge the Myth warms us up for the war that’s about to begin in Empire, bringing forward tons of heaviness with epic elements in the background and poetic lyrics based on historical facts (“Pieces of the world were born in Rome / Seeping into memories like water in the loam / From the mind of Caesar, seed of the empire / Far from the senate and its opulent liars”). Decivs sounds utterly furious on drums, while Diocletianvs roars and growls like a beast, resulting in a beyond fantastic way to kick off the album. In The Gallic Hourglass the band continues to march into the battlefield led by Fabivs’ and Nerva’s slashing riffs, with all folk elements adding an extra touch of mystery to their pulverizing Death Metal while at the same time sounding very cohesive and dense from start to finish; whereas Diocletianvs’ roars get deeper and darker in Chains of Alesia, a mid-tempo, utterly heavy chant by ADE showcasing razor-edged riffs and intricate beats, not to mention the flammable solos by Fabivs and Nerva.

Even more imposing and obscure, Once the Die Is Cast presents a gargantuan amount of progressiveness added to the band’s core Death Metal, where Cornelivs and Decivs, armed with their respective bass and drums, couldn’t sound more thunderous and incendiary, or in other words, simply bang your heads nonstop to this lesson in extreme music infused with pure epicness. And ADE keep blasting their whimsical sounds in Gold Roots of War, a neck-breaking tune where Fabivs and Nerva decimate their strings in great fashion, followed by Ptolemy Has to Fall, where the band gets back to a rawer and more direct sonority while still presenting all of their trademark background elements, pulverizing beats and crisp guitar solos, all embraced by the warrior-like vociferations by Diocletianvs. ADE never get tired of smashing their instruments, always with a lot of harmony, precision and feeling, resulting in enfolding extreme creations like Suppress the Riot, where Decivs is absolutely ruthless with his venomous drums.

Veni Vidi Vici, by far one of the most electrifying of all songs in Rise of the Empire and my favorite moment of the album, brings forward the enraged growls by Diocletianvs while the rest of the band delivers a stunning fusion of demolishing Death Metal with folk and percussion sounds, and following a similar pattern tribal beats ignite the enigmatic The Blithe Ignorance, alternating between semi-acoustic and introspective moments and the traditional rage from Death Metal, with its guitar riffs cutting your skin deep mercilessly. Lastly, in Imperator we’re treated to an amalgamation of heavy styles such as Progressive and Epic Metal spearheaded by Decivs’ fulminating drums, while Fabivs, Nerva and Cornelivs are in absolute sync with their stringed weapons, putting a beautiful and climatic ending to the album.

In a nutshell, Rise of the Empire, available for a full listen on Spotify and on sale from several locations such as ADE’s own BandCamp and Big Cartel (in digipack format or as a special pack containing the digipack CD plus an exclusive T-shirt), the Rockshots Records’ webstore, Apple Music and Amazon, is an excellent choice for fans of extreme music that also enjoy a good story behind all the devastation being blasted from the guitars, bass and drums, positioning ADE as one of the most interesting names of the current underground scene in Italy (needless to say, you should start following them on Facebook for news, tour dates and other awesome shenanigans) and, more important than that, keeping the flames of the always grandiose Roman Empire alive through their thrilling and technical music. They came, they saw, and they conquered, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Empire, Once the Die Is Cast and Veni Vidi Vici.

Worst moments of the album: Gold Roots of War.

Released in 2019 Extreme Metal Music/Rockshots Records

Track listing
1. Forge the Myth 1:28
2. Empire 4:25
3. The Gallic Hourglass 3:42
4. Chains of Alesia 3:33
5. Once the Die Is Cast 4:48
6. Gold Roots of War 3:14
7. Ptolemy Has to Fall 5:07
8. Suppress the Riot 4:22
9. Veni Vidi Vici 4:31
10. The Blithe Ignorance 5:14
11. Imperator 3:28

Band members
Diocletianvs – vocals
Fabivs – guitars
Nerva – guitars
Cornelivs – bass
Decivs – drums

Album Review – Suum / Buried Into The Grave (2018)

Enjoy this Stygian and occult album featuring seven tracks of pure gloomy Doom Metal, masterfully delivered by an Italian quartet that has already succumbed to the dark side of music.

Let’s dive deep into the sluggish and obscure realms of old school Doom Metal to the music by a Italian quartet that goes by the name of Summ, formed in 2017 in the Italian capital Rome. Comprised of Mark Wolf on vocals, Painkiller on the guitar, Marcas on bass and Rick on drums, Suum are releasing now in 2018 the full-length album Buried Into The Grave, featuring seven tracks of pure gloomy Doom Metal, bringing to your ears not only a Stygian sound tailored for the doomed, but also cryptic lyrics about darkness, doom and occultism, being highly recommended for fans of Black Sabbath, Danzig, Candlemass, My Dying Bride, Electric Wizard, and all other bands and artists that have beautifully succumbed to the darkest and most lugubrious side of music.

If there’s rain, thunder and wind, you know the music is going to be doomed, which is exactly what happens in the opening track Tower Of Oblivion. Marcas kicks off this damned feast with his low-tuned bass until the rest of the band joins him in darkness, with lead singer Mark Wolf haunting our souls with his Black Sabbath-inspired vocals while Painkiller fires sheer obscurity through his riffs, with all vileness increasing in intensity until its crisp ending. And their Doom Metal mass goes on in Black Mist, led by the steady beats by Rick while the phantasmagoric vocals by Mark and the heavier-than-hell riffs by Painkiller generate a truly somber atmosphere; followed by Buried Into The Grave, which in my humble opinion is the most Stygian of all tracks of the album (hence, it would definitely make Tony Iommi proud). Not only the vocal lines are deep and deranged, but the combined sound of guitar, bass and drums create this gloomy creature that will mercilessly enfold you just like pitch black darkness.

Last Sacrifice is another classic Doom Metal tune spearheaded by the slashing riffage by Painkiller and the slow but intricate beats by Rick, putting you on a trance and inspiring you to crack your neck headbanging, with the music flowing smoothly and darkly until the end. Then bringing the most acid and somber elements from Stoner Metal and Rock we have Seeds Of Decay, an atmospheric and sluggish creation by Suum with highlights to the rumbling sounds extracted by both Painkiller and Marcas from their hellish strings, whereas in the melancholic and introspective instrumental The Woods Are Waiting we face more rain and wind, going on for a bit too long though (albeit nothing that will make you skip it). And finally, rhythmic drums and scorching hot riffs ignite their last breath of old school Doom Metal, the somber extravaganza titled Shadows Haunt The Night, where Painkiller sounds absolutely on fire during the entire song, adding an extra touch of malignancy and obscurity to the final result.

You can succumb to total darkness by listening to Buried Into The Grave in its entirety on YouTube, by visiting Suum’s official Facebook page, and obviously by purchasing such dense and entertaining album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Endless Winter webstore, from the Hellas Records webstore, or from Discogs. Those four skillful Italian metallers not only live up to the legacy of traditional Doom Metal, but based on the high-quality of the music found in Buried Into The Grave, they’re also more than ready to carve their names in the history of such distinct music style.

Best moments of the album: Tower Of Oblivion, Buried Into The Grave and Shadows Haunt The Night.

Worst moments of the album: The Woods Are Waiting.

Released in 2018 Endless Winter/Hellas Records

Track listing
1. Tower Of Oblivion 6:25
2. Black Mist 4:40
3. Buried Into The Grave 4:55
4. Last Sacrifice 5:13
5. Seeds Of Decay 5:44
6. The Woods Are Waiting (Instrumental) 3:38
7. Shadows Haunt The Night 4:23

Band members
Mark Wolf – vocals
Painkiller – guitars
Marcas – bass
Rick – drums

Album Review – Helslave / Divination EP (2017)

Prepare yourself for a grim and murky fusion of old school and modern Swedish-inspired Death Metal by five Italian troopers in their path of destruction and killing.

Formed in 2009 by guitarist Jari, Italian Death Metal act Helslave is a Rome-based band taking its influences from the 90’s Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal Swedish scene, adding their personal twist to generate a mix of old and modern school metal music. After releasing a self-titled demo in 2010, followed by the EP Ethereal Decay in 2013 and their first full-length album An Endless Path in 2015, the band started playing shows all over Italy and Europe, sharing the stage with acts such as Grave, Asphyx, Havok, Hideous Divinity and Destroyer 666, also appearing at Metaldays in 2014, keeping themselves busy and always charged up to continue their path of destruction wherever they go.

In the beginning of the year, Helslave entered the studio to record a brand new EP titled Divination, comprised of four brand new tracks leaning towards darker and heavier sounds, playing their already traditional Swedish-inspired Death Metal in the vein of Grave, Entombed and Desultor, all embraced by the devilish artwork designed by Misanthropic Art. Prepare yourself for grim and murky old school Death Metal, the kind of stuff that doesn’t rely on triggered blast beats, light-in-the-loafers warbling, or anything but the crudest building blocks to construct its killing art. Hence, although Divination lasts for only around 16 minutes, that’s more than enough for Helslave to crush your spine mercilessly.

In the opening track, beautifully titled Summoning The Eternal Eclipse, an ominous intro morphs into sheer devastation by Jari and his henchmen, with drummer Francesco Comerci dictating the song’s demented rhythm in a solid display of Swedish Death Metal. In addition, newcomer Diego Laino and his Unleashed-inspired vocals keep the song’s ferocity at an extremely high level, perfect for declaiming the song’s menacing lyrics (“Silence falls, it freezes all around / the arrival of divine / ancestral ritual summon
/ Blinding lights, no human eye can see
/ let the plague fall on the weak”). And there’s no time to breathe, as the band rises from the pits of hell with another brutal carnage named Lord Of Lies, presenting old school, visceral Death Metal with hints of other extreme genres such as Black and Thrash Metal to add more dynamism to the musicality. The guitar duo Jari and Lorenzo Fabiani are simply fantastic, blasting scorching, darkened riffs through their instruments, not to mention the intricate beats by Francesco in this ode to obscurity.

In The Spawn Of Astaroth, the band slows things down a bit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fire truly dismembering riffs and beats, with Diego growling like a beast while Francesco and bassist Luca Riccardelli maintain a dense ambience in the background. Moreover, the final guitar lines exhale pure Black Metal, not to mention the song’s insurgent lyrics (“The fate of a great battle / has to be faced / an indomitable army has to be defeated / We are the ones who walk the left hand path / As written in the blood of the prophecy / The only way to conquer this land”). And Desecration, their last spawn of vicious Death Metal, is fast, demonic and amazingly neck-breaking, again presenting traditional piercing riffs and solos by Jari and Lorenzo as well as the complex and vibrant drumming by Francesco, being highly recommended for fans of Unleashed and Obituary.

You can take a full listen at Divination on YouTube, and follow Helslave through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, ReverbNation and SoundCloud. And if you want to show your true support to high-end underground Death Metal, you can purchase the EP at Helslave’s BandCamp or Big Cartel, at the Black Market Metal’s Big Cartel, or at Discogs. The only “issue” with Divination is that it’s only 15 minutes long, but as aforementioned that doesn’t stop Helslave from shining and destroying with their unrelenting Death Metal, leaving us eager for more kick-ass extreme music by this hardworking Italian squad.

Best moments of the album: Summoning The Eternal Eclipse.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Black Market Metal

Track listing
1. Summoning The Eternal Eclipse 4:08
2. Lord Of Lies 3:32
3. The Spawn Of Astaroth 3:43
4. Desecration 4:35

Band members
Diego Laino – vocals
Jari – lead guitars
Lorenzo Fabiani – guitars
Luca Riccardelli – bass
Francesco Comerci – drums

Album Review – A Taste Of Fear / God’s Design (2017)

An amazing display of dexterity, professionalism and devotion to Thrash and Death Metal by a promising Italian quartet, representing to perfection what the band is all about.

Musically inspired by old school Thrash and Death Metal bands such as Testament, Kreator, Death and Obituary, just to mention some of them, while the lyrics are essentially based on moods, feelings, sensations and on social injustices, God’s Design, the brand new album by Italian Technical Thrash/Death Metal act A Taste Of Fear, is not only a top-notch high-speed feast of metallic and belligerent sounds, but it also represents to perfection what this Rome-based four-piece band is all about and their goals in the world of extreme music.

A Taste Of Fear came alive in 2014 thanks to bassist Michele Attolino (Avanguard, Ruinthrone, Blooddawn) and his deep passion for Thrash and Death Metal, being joined at later stages of the band by the versatile vocalist Stefano Sciamanna (Endaemona), the unstoppable drummer Flavio Castagnoli (Exhume to Consume, Forgotten Lore), and finally the experienced guitarist Emiliano Pacioni (Lunarsea, Catales). After the lineup reached its final shape and form, it was time for those four Italian metallers to begin crushing with their unrelenting music, culminating with the release of God’s Design now in 2017, an album that will definitely leave some good scars on you due to its high level of intricacy, progressiveness and, above all, sheer aggression.

Michele kicks off the title-track God’s Design in an eerie way with his mesmerizing bass, being smoothly joined by the other band members, always sounding very technical and fresh in a solid hybrid of Thrash and Death Metal with hints of Black Metal, with Stefano switching his gentle clean vocals to an even more demonic version of Mille Petrozza. Following that excellent start we have Into Hell, with no slow or atmospheric intros, but only sheer Death Metal bursting with dexterity and stamina where Flavio seems to be in ecstasy while smashing his drums. Moreover, the great string duo comprised of Emiliano and Michele delivers cutting riffs and metallic low-tuned sounds respectively, making the whole song even more impactful.

A calm and serene intro once again explodes into brutal devastation in Out Of Place, a fast-paced creation by the quartet with highlights to the amazing synchronicity between Flavio’s beats and Emiliano’s riffage, not to mention its Flamenco-inspired short break; whereas A Feared Secret brings the most electrifying elements found in Thrash and Death Metal, with Stefano’s harsh gnarls getting more piercing and ferocious. In other words, this is a full-bodied hymn perfect for headbanging or slamming into the pit with its almost 8 minutes of a very intricate and technical sonic attack, all enhanced by an amazing guitar solo by Emiliano. And Make Suffer, a high-octane chant led by the demented growls by Stefano and the furious drumming by Flavio, feels like a kick-ass fusion of Kreator and Carcass. Simply sing its chorus along with the band and crush your skull into the circle pit to this awesome composition, and don’t forget to thoroughly enjoy the song’s superb bass solo.

In Ripped Soul’s Gift, the heavy, headbanging riffs by Emiliano impregnate the air, building a truly demonic ambience for Stefano’s hellish screams in this nonstop sonic demolition tailored for fans of gory and menacing Death Metal, followed by The Passage, which sounds considerably thrashier than its predecessor (in special the frantic drumming by Flavio). This is a good sample of what we can call Blackened Thrash Metal due to its darker and more aggressive sounds, with Emiliano and Michele pounding their strings ferociously from start to finish, emanating keen, demonic sounds to pulverize our ears. And last but not least we have A Taste Of Fear, the song that carries the band’s name, a 7-minute Death Metal onslaught full of demonic guitar lines, thunderous bass and drums and the always deranged growling by Stefano, also showcasing hints of progressiveness to enhance its taste. Moreover, every single second of this tune bursts with anger, hatred and obviously fear, ending with another sensational guitar solo by Emiliano.

If you want to know more about A Taste Of Fear, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud, and grab your copy of God’s Design (available for a full listen on Spotify) at their own BandCamp page, at the Time to Kill Records’ Big Cartel, at Qobuz or on Amazon. God’s Design might not be the revolution in heavy music, and I truly believe that was never the band’s intention with it, but it’s indeed an amazing display of dexterity, professionalism and devotion to Thrash and Death Metal by this Italian quartet, and let’s hope the band releases several albums in the future with the same punch and finesse as their debut endeavor.

Best moments of the album: Into Hell, A Feared Secret and Make Suffer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Time To Kill Records

Track listing
1. God’s Design 6:08
2. Into Hell 4:04
3. Out Of Place 5:24
4. A Feared Secret 7:48
5. Make Suffer 5:18
6. Ripped Soul’s Gift 4:55
7. The Passage 5:56
8. A Taste Of Fear 7:27

Band members
Stefano Sciamanna – vocals
Emiliano Pacioni – guitars
Michele Attolino – bass
Flavio Castagnoli – drums

Album Review – Gaerea / Gaerea EP (2016)

This five-piece faceless and nameless horde from Italy will blast your ears and minds with the darkened, dissonant and furious extreme music flowing from their debut self-titled album.

Rating5

front_coverPlaying darkened, dissonant and furious Black Metal without displaying any hints of mercy for mankind in the demonic 27 minutes of their self-titled debut EP Gaerea, Italian Black Metal quintet Gaerea will please fans of controversial groups such as Mgła, Secrets Of The Moon, Celeste and Behemoth, among others, bringing an infinite amount of obscurity and consternation to our ears and souls. Hailing from the cities of Rome and Lazio, this five-piece faceless and nameless act is one of the biggest promises in the Italian underground scene, and after listening to this professional and multi-layered album I’m sure the beautiful name of this phantasmagoric horde will stick inside your mind forever.

“Let’s make one thing clear. We need to stress the fact that our era is lost in a huge void of numbness. We are here to bring and present you what your system could not solve by itself. We’ll cover the daylight with ashes and smash the massive skull that’s blocking your brain and will to evolve. We’re Gaerea.” Those interesting words spilled by the band itself are precise in describing their musicality, a dense mix of different extreme styles such as Blackened Death Metal and Funeral Doom, which obviously leads to tenebrous lyrics and a total lack of happiness or hope in each one of the five tracks of the album.

An ominous intro with eerie background noises grows until guitars and deep guttural vocals join the musicality in Santificato, a demonic display of Black and Doom Metal that sounds disturbing from start to finish, setting the tone for the next tune, titled Final Call. Boisterous bass and guitar sounds open the gates to the underworld in this darkened chant blending Atmospheric Black Metal with elements from Funeral Doom and traditional Doom Metal, with its lyrics dealing with our personal struggles and all issues our society faces in this rotting world (“Why we all fight if the end is the same? / Six feet under is deep enough to make us equal like an unborn child / Black or white we want to be someone / We are all made of choices so why do we choose the wrong one? / War is not the answer to stop this carnage / So stand up and face it”).

img_0429Crisp guitar lines ignite the blackened tune Pray To Your False God, where drums come crushing like a steamroller. Moreover, desperate growls and an obscure vibe are the main ingredients in the most menacing of all songs, with its second half getting more sluggish with Black and Doom Metal flawlessly merging into one forbidding organism; followed by the sinister Through Time, a song fans of Behemoth and Triptykon will enjoy for sure due to its flammable Black Metal guitar riffs, anguished screams and a rhythmic and fierce drumming. And singing about death (“You scream for silence / You yell for pain / You just want to be quiet / On this pleasant dream / It burns you must feel / Your flesh going to ashes”), Void Of Numbness is Blackened Death Metal at its finest with a great performance by all band members, closing the EP in a more-than-fantastic and somber way. Furthermore, its drums sound amazingly powerful and heavy, making a precise duo with the satanic gnarls blasted by the band’s phantom vocalist.

Gaerea can be found (but not unmasked) at their official Facebook page, with their devilish EP being available for purchase at their BandCamp page and at the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, but if you want to put your perverse hands on an awesome bundle containing the album and an exclusive, stylish T-shirt, simply visit the Everlasting Spew Records’ webstore for that very special offer. In short, Gaenea might be faceless and nameless, but they’re undoubtedly a solid evil identity that will reach the darkest depths of your mind with their unrelenting music.

Best moments of the album: Pray To Your False God and Void Of Numbness.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Santificato 3:32
2. Final Call 6:25
3. Pray To Your False God 5:50
4. Through Time 6:31
5. Void Of Numbness 5:09

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Lectern / Precept Of Delator (2016)

It doesn’t matter what happens to the world of music, these Italian metallers will never back off, always blasting our ears with their high-quality brutal Death Metal.

Rating5

lectern_precept-of-delatorIf there’s an underground Death Metal band that deserves our utmost respect for never giving up on extreme music, remaining always loyal to their foundations and beliefs despite all the hurdles faced during their entire career, it’s Italian death metallers Lectern. Since their inception in 1999 in the Italian capital city of Rome, the band led by lead singer and bassist Fabio Bava has been through several lineup changes, enduring an increasing lack of support from record labels and even the general public to any type of Extreme Metal, which ended up hampering the band from producing music for many years. But if you think that all those issues would cease their inner fire to craft old school brutal Death Metal, you’re absolutely wrong.

Inspired by all Death Metal bands from the United States from the 90’s, especially the ones based in Tampa, Florida, Lectern have always delivered excellent music to fans of the genre, starting with their debut EP Bisbetical in 1999, followed by a series of albums released after a huge hiatus, those being the EP Salvific Of Perhaps Lambent (2010) and the self-titled EP Lectern (2014), and their first full-length album Fratricidal Concelebration (2015). Now in 2016 it’s time for Lectern to haunt the world once again with Precept Of Delator, their brand new beastly album which features a Satanic old school artwork by Indonesian musician and artist Adi Dechristianize and an unbounded amount of sheer aggressiveness.

The opening track Gergal Profaner offers brutal devastation from the very first second, with drummer Marco Valentine being that rhythmic annihilator we all enjoy in technical Death Metal, while the band’s mastermind Fabio keeps growling like a beast. In short, this is awesome straightforward Death Metal for lovers of extreme music, period. Singing about the Catholic Church and their issues with pedophilia (“Palpation of sacramentarian / Sworn with fratricidal scars / Molested flesh / Eluded truth”), Palpation of Sacramentarian feels like old school Cannibal Corpse with a Thrash Metal vibe, with guitarist Pietro Sabato and Gabriele Cruz firing those traditional kick-ass riffs that always inspire us to slam into the pit; followed by the Satanic Fluent Bilocation, a brutal metallic massacre with Fabio and Marco dictating the rhythm with their respective gnarls and boisterous beats. In addition to that, the insanely good neck-breaking riff in the middle of the song keeps up with the basis of the Death Metal institution, proving how much those guys love that type of music.

lectern-2016Distil Shambles is a metal storm bursting aggressive growls and beats upon the listener, with all its tempo changes adding tons of ferocity and electricity to the musicality, as well as an excellent solo to close the song in an apocalyptic way. Then we have some ominous voices kicking off the obscure and putrid chant Pellucid, tailored for fans of pure pugnacity in music, with the guitars by both Pietro and Gabriele sounding truly menacing during the song’s five minutes of the most violent Death Metal you can think of. And Lectern continue their path of doom in Diptych of Perked Oblation, blasting brutal music with guitars and drums smashing your brain while Fabio roars each word of the song manically, turning this into a beyond excellent composition for their live performances.

Garn for Debitors brings forward two minutes of crushing riffs and drums, another song that sounds like the early days of Cannibal Corpse, and if you survive this hurricane of metal music you’re definitely a true badass headbanger ready for the title-track Precept of Delator and its pure Satanic lyrics (“With blasphemy reasons burn / Infamous scriptures / Devotional calvary / Precept of delator / Evil truth”). It might not be as fast-paced as its predecessors, but it’s dark and thrilling, with highlights to the furious riffage and solos by Pietro and Gabriele. Closing this brutal album we have another shot of traditional Death Metal titled Discorporation with Feral, showcasing a good pace and the deranged, deep growls by Fabio as its main ingredients.

All the exciting history, the metallic victories and the inspiring losses of such amazing underground band can be better appreciated at their Facebook page, and you can enjoy their extreme and technical music at their YouTube channel, ReverbNation and SoundCloud. Precept Of Delator, available for purchasing at the Via Nocturna’s BandCamp page and at the band’s Big Cartel page, is a solid and uproarious declaration by Lectern which confirms that it doesn’t matter what happens to the world of music, these Italian metallers will never back off, continuing to blast our ears with their belligerent Death Metal for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Gergal Profaner, Fluent Bilocation and Diptych of Perked Oblation.

Worst moments of the album: Discorporation with Feral.

Released in 2016 Via Nocturna

Track listing
1. Gergal Profaner 3:50
2. Palpation of Sacramentarian 5:13
3. Fluent Bilocation 3:45
4. Distil Shambles 3:35
5. Pellucid 5:05
6. Diptych of Perked Oblation 3:55
7. Garn for Debitors 2:15
8. Precept of Delator 4:34
9. Discorporation with Feral 4:43

Band members
Fabio Bava – vocals, bass
Pietro Sabato – guitar
Gabriele Cruz – guitar
Marco Valentine – drums

Album Review – Malamorte / Devilish Illusions (2016)

May the dark clouds of Black and Heavy Metal by this promising Italian project cast an ominous shadow over mankind.

Rating5

4_PanelIf we put together the Italian words “mala” and “morte” and translate them to English, the final result would be the simple but macabre expression “bad death”. Based in the historic city of Rome, Italy, Black/Heavy Metal project Malamorte returns from its ominous crypt to ensure our death is as bad as possible, haunting our souls with more of its creepy and theatrical music inspired by the iconic King Diamond and his Mercyful Fate with a Black Metal twist, this time enfolded as a brand new opus entitled Devilish Illusions.

Although this side project by Alessandro “Alex” Nunziati, best known as Lord Vampyr and the mastermind behind several metal acts like Lord Vampyr, Cain, Nailed God, Shadowsreign, Sepolcrum, VII Arcano and Theatres des Vampires, was founded back in 2009, it was only in 2014 that the debut EP The Fall of Babylon was released. However, after the great feedback received from fans and critics, Lord Vampyr (or in the case of Malamorte, only L.V.) decided it was time to provide the world another blast of his dark compositions in 2016, supported by Italian musician SK on guitars, bass and programming.

Heavily inspired by cult horror movies and the freakish atmosphere by Mercyful Fate, the intro Maleficium I will give you the chills before the title-track Devilish Illusions explodes into extreme and obscure music. L.V. sounds like an inhuman entity on vocals, with his guitar riffs blending traditional Heavy Metal with Black Metal (and even Thrash Metal elements can be noticed in this metallic devastation). After that promising start, dissonant guitar lines kick off the hellish composition named Pactum, slower but still vile and dense. It seems like L.V. is eager to drag us to a dark den and use us for a black magic ritual, with the wolves howling (or maybe tortured souls) in the background being truly disorienting, exactly what L.V. wants us to feel inside our minds.

In the powerful Dark Clouds On Golgotha, which by the way has a beautiful name for a song, its guitars and rhythm lean towards old school Heavy Metal from the 80’s, with its keyboards and drums adding a lot of flavor to it. I’m sure L.V. and his electrified performance on vocals, sounding even more demonic than usual, will put you to bang your head nostop, before the short bridge Maleficium II and its creepy piano notes introduce you to the following track, named Possession.  This high-end Extreme Metal tune displays a similar sonority to “Dark Clouds On Golgotha”, which seems to be where this project truly thrives. In addition to that, not only guest musician SK is an excellent multi-instrumentalist who significantly enhances the level of energy in the music, but the raw sounding presented in this case effectively keeps the musicality on the dark side for our total delight.

mal-bandThe title-track Malamorte keeps up with the vileness found in the rest of the album, starting with a wicked intro with some interesting piano notes and background voices that after a while turns into modern extreme music, blending elements of Black, industrial and Symphonic Metal. There are even some distorted piano notes, which together with some boisterous riffs guide this ode to dementia. Now imagine if Motörhead went Black Metal with hints of Thrash Metal? This is the interesting mixture you’ll get in the amazing high-speed tune Devoted To Self-Destruction, a nonstop sonic demolition perfect for live performances exhibiting guitar riffs and solos inspired by icons such as Slayer and Megadeth, but with a Rock N’ Roll vibe.

And there’s still time for another devilish duo of compositions by Malamorte, entitled Lucifer’s Rebellion and Maleficium III. The first takes the musicality back to the band’s more traditional approach, with its blast beats and deranged growls transpiring obscurity, not to mention its straightforward main message (Hail Lucifer!) and its abrupt and demonic ending; while the closing track is an outro where the initial gathering of background noises return one final time to haunt our sinful souls.

The world of Malamorte can be further explored on Facebook and ReverbNation, and Devilish Illusions is available for sale at the Murdher Records’ webstore and at the Satanath Records’ webstore or BandCamp. May the dark clouds of Black and Heavy Metal by Malamorte cast a shadow over all of us, and may we all sense their ominous energy penetrating our souls and disfiguring our minds.

Best moments of the album: Dark Clouds On Golgotha, Possession and Devoted To Self-Destruction.

Worst moments of the album: Pactum.

Released in 2016 Satanath Records

Track listing
1. Maleficium I 2:09
2. Devilish Illusions 3:21
3. Pactum 4:28
4. Dark Clouds On Golgotha 4:36
5. Maleficium II 0:16
6. Possession 5:02
7. Malamorte 6:30
8. Devoted To Self-Destruction 2:58
9. Lucifer’s Rebellion 3:24
10. Maleficium III 5:06

Band members
L.V. – vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest musician
SK – guitars, bass, programming

Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Deadlights (2016)

The Italian coven of Doom and Gothic Metal returns in full force to put another electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on you.

Rating4

WOD_DeadlightsAfter releasing their debut album Obey back in 2014, I knew it was just a matter of time until Italian Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal act Witches Of Doom returned with more of their mesmerizing Rock N’ Roll extravaganza. Two years have gone by since that amazing album, and here we have the Rome-based warlocks Danilo “Groova” Piludu on vocals, Federico “Fed” Venditti on the guitar, Jacopo Cartelli on bass, Graziano “Eric” Corrado on keyboards and Andrea “Budi” Budicin on drums offering all fans of old school dark music the likes of Type O Negative, Moonspell and The Cult their brand new album whimsically entitled Deadlights which, just like its predecessor, will put you to dance, drink and make love like there’s no tomorrow.

Although I’m not a professional musician, producer or anything similar to that, I must say the upward growth in the overall quality of the album in terms of its production and sound is one of those things that not only helped Witches Of Doom explore new horizons and add new elements to their music, but it also shows how professional those Italian metallers are and how much they are focused on what they do. Thus, due to the enhanced quality of their music and to the brand new songs added to their portfolio, I think the band is more than ready to reach new heights and start spreading their exciting music throughout the world by touring in places like the United States, Canada and South America, either by themselves or as one of the attractions of some music festivals held in those regions.

While we wait for their first world tour, let’s rock to the sound of the superb opening track in Deadlights, called Lizard Tongue, where after an alternative and electronic we are embraced by a modernized goth atmosphere and the band’s pure Rock N’ Roll attitude. These guys know how to bring that magic aura from the 80’s to our present days, with frontman Danilo being better than ever with his inebriate and dark vocals, perfectly declaiming the song’s catchy lyrics (“Daughter of a thousand sins / Angel praying for your last wish / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide / Trick or treat is the only law / Merchant on the killing floor / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide”). In Run with the Wolf, an eerie waltz mixed with symphonic elements in what’s probably their most obscure composition to date, keyboardist Andrea crafts the perfect doomed ambience, supported by the low-tuned bass lines by Jacopo; whereas in Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man), heavier and weirder than usual due to the rumbling bass by Jacopo and the always passionate guitar riffs and experimentations by the band’s mastermind Fed, the listener faces a solid blend of Gothic Rock with Alternative Rock and Metal.

WOD 2016Melancholy and sorrow flow from the beautiful Winter Coming, where Danilo once again provides an additional layer of emotion to the musicality with his vocal lines (not to mention the song’s sorrowful lyrics), followed by Homeless, another shot of wickedness provided by this talented band with the groovy bass lines by Jacopo and the progressive drumming by Andrea enhancing the song’s punch. In other words, this could become a radio hit anytime, anywhere. And get ready to be hypnotized by the Black Voodoo Girl, with its Gothic start getting heavier and darker until it becomes another one of the band’s “striptease” hymns. The keyboard passages by Graziano match perfectly with the heavy riffs by Fed and the somber vocals by Danilo, and you’ll surely have a good time singing its chorus along with the band.

In Mater Mortis, what begins as an epic chant quickly morphs into a futuristic tune, more specifically into an ode to the music from the 80’s with highlights to its awesome keyboards, and this instrumental voyage sets the tone for Gospel for War, a badass Gothic/Stoner Rock chant tailored for fans of Rock N’ Roll pub fights where Fed keeps blasting his excellent riffs while Andrea takes his drumming to a whole new and amazing level of intricacy. And last but not least, bringing elements from non-metal genres like Jazz and Blues to their sounding, the band offers us all the introspective and soulful I Don’t Want to Be a Star, showcasing smooth but fierce piano notes by Eric and strong performances by Danilo on vocals and by Fed with his fiery solos. If you love long and experimental songs with the energy and feeling of Rock N’ Roll, you might have found your new favorite song in rock music.

In summary, the music presented in Deadlights, which features a stunning artwork by Italian artist Carlo Muselli (who by the way is the big boss at Sliptrick Records) and is available on iTunes or on Amazon, has everything a true fan of heavy rock always looks for and more, and in order to know more about the Witches Of Doom, including their future plans and tour dates, don’t forget to go check their official Facebook page. This skilled coven of Doom and Gothic Metal is not among us to simply play some rock tunes, but in special to put an electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on all of us, lovers of dark and rhythmic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Lizard Tongue, Black Voodoo Girl and Gospel for War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Lizard Tongue 4:13
2. Run with the Wolf 4:49
3. Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man) 5:45
4. Winter Coming 4:35
5. Homeless 5:32
6. Black Voodoo Girl 4:46
7. Mater Mortis 3:01
8. Gospel for War 4:35
9. I Don’t Want to Be a Star 6:59

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitars
Jacopo Cartelli – bass
Graziano “Eric” Corrado – keyboards
Andrea “Budi” Budicin – drums

Album Review – Helligators / Road Roller Machine (2015)

A high-end primeval nitro-rock music album, with the sole purpose of smashing every living creature that stands on its way just like an enraged road roller machine would do.

Rating4

copertina_road_roller_machineSometimes the Rock N’ Roll played by a band is so loud, filthy and ruthless that the band surpasses the invisible boundaries established by the music industry, becoming respected and loved by the always-demanding diehard Heavy Metal fans. This is what happens with icons such as Motörhead, Volbeat, Crucified Barbara and many other badass bands in the world, and since 2009 we can also include Italian Rock N’ Roll band Helligators on this list so vicious their music is. With that said, if you want to give them a try I suggest you take a listen at their brand new album, entitled Road Roller Machine, and you’ll be able to feel all that Rock N’ Roll electricity flowing through your veins.

Merging elements from different genres and subgenres of rock and metal music, and relying heavily on their deep-rooted Rock N’ Roll/Stoner Rock attitude night and day, this excellent band formed in Rome, Italy returns with more of their immoral music after releasing their debut album Against All Odds, from 2011. It’s interesting to see an Italian band playing what is considered pure American music, but they do it so well you’ll start asking yourself if they’re indeed from Italy or if they’re American guys who left their homeland and are now just living in “il bel paese”. Either way, by the time you find an answer to those questions, you’ll be already addicted to their top-notch heavy music.

The opening track Nomad sounds clearly inspired by the musicality from Motörhead and the badass attitude from Chrome Division, with its nonstop dirty riffs and groovy drumming supporting the rockin’ raspy vocals by Emanuele “Hellvis” and, of course, all embellished by an exciting guitar solo, exactly what is needed in visceral Rock N’ Roll. Not only the initial riff in the next track, The Doomstroyer, a killer Stoner Rock tune with no shenanigans, is 100% kick-ass, but also the atmosphere generated by the guitar lines by Kamo and Mik “El Santo” takes you to some sort of desolated and pungent desert where the music by Helligators reverberates like thunder. And if you’re taking the road anytime soon don’t forget to add Scream to your playlist, a song perfect for enjoying a cold one, banging your head and screaming as loud as you can together with Hellvis and the rest of the crew. Two lessons that can be taken from this track are first that, when they stick to the basics the result is absolutely awesome, and secondly, Kamo is an awesome guitarist who truly knows how to craft the perfect guitar solo the music is asking for.

Listen to She Laughs and you’ll see how much they love Stoner Rock/Metal the likes of Down so heavy and soulful it is, not to mention the song’s lyrics about a sultry demon-like woman, which turn it into another interesting option for a fiery strip-tease at any gentlemen’s club in the world. Then we have the outstanding razin’ tune Snake Oil Jesus, previously released in 2012 as a single, where the band puts the pedal to the metal offering the listener some fuming guitar riffs and solos while drummer Alex fuels the rhythm with his strong beats. In addition, try not to get addicted to its chorus, it’s as catchy as hell (“If you feel so sad and lonely / Pray and give me all your money / I just wanna be your friend / Come Holy Ghost and feed us / I will treat you good I swear / I am the Snake Oil Jesus”).

helligatorsRev up your engines because there’s still a lot more awesomeness to come, starting with Truckdriver, a great Rock N’ Roll song where Hellvis lives up to his nickname and its accelerated rhythm and excellent guitar duo will surely please all fans of old school rock music, followed by Swamp Man Voodoo, with elements of the eerie music by Groove Metal icons White Zombie fittting perfectly to the theme of this song. Moreover, it’s a good option for a psychological horror flick soundtrack, with the only letdown being its backing vocals, not as effective as in previous tracks. And when a song is called Bad Ass you know it’s going to be heavy and fun, with Helligators getting back to that low-tuned sonority from Stoner Rock blended with faster Rock N’ Roll and the vocals by Hellvis reminding me of the amazing Eddie Guz, the harsh and inebriate voice of The Carburetors and ex-Chrome Division.

Last but not least, the pub song Stone Crusher is perhaps the most extreme version of their Stoner Rock side, and how about that awesome guitar solo halfway through the song? Although the second half of the song loses part of its electricity, it’s nothing that would make it less entertaining, before the Country Rock semi-acoustic ballad Black Sun closes the album enhanced by huge dosages of feeling and passion by the band members, with highlights to the cool bass lines by Pinna “Yeti”, the song’s doomsday vibe and its melancholic ending. You can listen to a preview of each and every song of Road Roller Machine HERE, where Helligators present the album on the European Metal Channel.

To sum up, Road Roller Machine might not be the most innovative and complex album in the world, but who said it should be so? Helligators do a superb job delivering high-end primeval nitro-rock music, with the sole purpose of smashing every living creature that stands on their way just like an enraged road roller machine would do. If you want to connect with this talented rockin’ machine and know more about their music and tour dates, go check their official Facebook page, and if you’re one of those crazy rockers who salivates whenever you listen to a dirty riff, you can find Road Roller Machine on Amazon or Google Play, among other locations. I honestly doubt you’ll regret purchasing such an incredible feast of Rock N’ Roll like the one offered by Helligators.

Best moments of the album: The Doomstroyer, Scream, Snake Oil Jesus and Truckdriver.

Worst moments of the album: Swamp Man Voodoo and Stone Crusher.

Released in 2015 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Nomad 5:17
2. The Doomstroyer 5:26
3. Scream 4:29
4. She Laughs 4:55
5. Snake Oil Jesus 3:57
6. Truckdriver 4:10
7. Swamp Man Voodoo 6:21
8. Bad Ass 6:20
9. Stone Crusher 6:14
10. Black Sun 5:02

Band members
Emanuele “Hellvis” – lead vocals
Kamo – lead guitar, backing vocals
Mik “El Santo” – guitar, backing vocals
Pinna “Yeti” – bass
Alex – drums