Album Review – Antipope / Denial/Survival (2017)

Bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s, this Finnish act returns from a four-year hiatus to offer us all their music in its most uncompromising form.

As a nice Christmas gift to all readers of The Headbanging Moose, I have for you today Denial/Survival, the fourth full-length album by Finnish Progressive Black Metal trinity Antipope, whose music is according to the band itself a free expression of whatever styles, themes or moods might be needed to relate the particular message to the listener. Although the band is considered by many as Black Metal, the name Antipope stands for liberation from any and all dogmas and renouncement of intellectual and ideological authorities, being the soundtrack for self-discovery, death and rebirth.

Formed in 2004 in the city of Oulu, the band comprised of founder Mikko Myllykangas on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar and programming, Antti J. Karjalainen on guitars and Tuska E. on drums returns from a four-year hiatus with Denial/Survival, presenting their characteristic style of bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s. Combining elements of Extreme Metal, Melodic Death Metal and even a bit of Flamenco, and featuring an imposing artwork by Finnish artist Tiina Kaakkuriniemi, Denial/Survival will offer you the music of Antipope in its most uncompromising form, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time while listening to such diverse album of extreme music.

In the opening track, titled Waters Below, we already face the multi-layered music by the trio, with an instrumental beginning that goes on for about two minutes before devastation arrives through the hellish growls by Mikko in a rhythmic and epic display of modern Black Metal; followed by Flat Circle, which presents hints of Atmospheric Black Metal infused in their more straightforward Scandinavian Extreme Metal. Moreover, Tuska does a solid job going from a more progressive style to visceral blast beats that live up to the legacy of Black Metal. And in the title-track Denial/Survival the band speeds up their pace and distills their venom through their austere words (“I woke up in the land of denial / It’s true the guilt is all you care for / Seeing you and the rest of your kind / Wallowing in self-pity and mutual rape”) in a true headbanging hymn perfect for cracking your spinal cord, which obviously translates into one of the top moments of the album.

The ominous, darkened instrumental bridge Der Sadist sets the tone for the even more obscure Black Metal chant Hunt, with the mid-tempo beats by Tuska being effectively blended with the crisp guitar lines by Antti, sounding more introspective and melancholic than the rest of the album. Then get ready to be smashed by the futuristic and melodic (but still very raw) onrush of extreme music named True Anarchist, sounding at times like Marilyn Manson, with Antti once again firing his captivating riffs, before the atmospheric and ominous creation Mindlessness Meditation brings forward cavernous bass lines by Mikko, who darkly declaims the song’s cryptic lyrics.

An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness, a slow-paced chant that could actually be used to summon an evil entity, presents words that sound and fell infernal (“This is how it begins, the last phase / A thousand step descent into the unknown / The words extend the rays of light / From the shadows a new mind”), whereas in Tragic Vision we can feel their music growing in intensity as time passes by, with Mikko and Antti making a great guitar duo by blasting some wicked riffs. Furthermore, the whole song has a touch of epicness that makes it very exciting to listen to, not to mention Tuska’s galloping beats in perfect sync with his bandmates’ stringed weapons. And as the closing song of the album Antipope deliver what is also the longest of all tunes, entitled Resolution, which could easily be used in the soundtrack for a slasher flick or a Tarantino-style movie, helping the album stand out among other extreme bands for its versatility and innovative approach.

I’m certain that, after listening to Denial/Survival, you’ll be more than curious to know more about Antipope and their distinct career, and in order to do that simply go check what Mikko & Co. are up to on Facebook, watch to their classy videos on YouTube and listen to their music on Spotify, and purchase the album through their BandCamp page or on iTunes. There’s nothing better than celebrating Christmas with some nice extreme music made in Finland, a country where Santa Claus is supposed to live (in the cold and charming Lapland, the largest and northernmost region of the country), so don’t waste your time and go show your support to this very interesting underground act. Well, if you don’t do so, I guess Santa will have to cross “somebody’s” name from his list next year.

Best moments of the album: Denial/Survival, Hunt and Tragic Vision.

Worst moments of the album: Flat Circle.

Released in 2017 Antipope/TCM Entertainment

Track listing
1. Waters Below 5:25
2. Flat Circle 5:40
3. Denial/Survival 5:06
4. Der Sadist 3:22
5. Hunt 7:08
6. True Anarchist 4:23
7. Mindlessness Meditation 4:34
8. An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness 5:29
9. Tragic Vision 4:25
10. Resolution 7:13

Band members
Mikko Myllykangas – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, programming
Antti J. Karjalainen – guitars
Tuska E. – drums

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Album Review –NordWitch / Mørk Profeti (2016)

Behold the rise of a brand new Blackened Death Metal horde hailing from Ukraine, taking the entire world by storm with their high-voltage fusion of epicness and blasphemy.

Rating4

nordwitch-coverWatching the rise of Ukrainian Metal is a thing of beauty. Despite not having any major names yet in the world of heavy music, Ukraine has been growing in importance for all types of metalheads, with names such as Apostate, Sad Alice Said, Majesty Of Revival, Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns, among many others, blasting their powerful music to the four corners of the earth. Having said that, we might be witnessing the birth of a Ukrainian act that has all it takes to take the entire world by storm with their high-voltage fusion of epicness and blasphemy. That band is Blackened Death Metal horde NordWitch, who have just released their extremely heavy debut album entitled Mørk Profeti (or “dark prophecy” from Norwegian).

Formed in February 2015 in the capital city of Kiev, NordWitch are highly inspired by interesting (and usually controversial) topics like Satanism, Occultism and Norse mythology, all embraced by their mighty riffs, their intricate and crisp drumming, and the deep guttural by their stunning frontwoman Masha. The only difference from the band’s inception until today is Ukrainian drummer Eugene Hrulev, who has recently replaced the amazing Hungarian stone crusher Donets Stepan, but apart from that the band has been a solid institution ready to conquer the world with their scathing fusion of Black and Death Metal and a strong passion for extreme music.

As a great example of how powerful and melodious the music by NordWitch is, let me start by saying that they managed to make the three-minute instrumental intro Mørk Profeti truly interesting and exciting even without the vocals by Masha, with Donets smashing his drums flawlessly while Max and Leo kick some serious ass with their guitar lines a la Arch Enemy. As a matter of fact, if you love Arch Enemy you’ll find a lot of them in each song by NordWitch, obviously considerably darker and more blasphemous. Then we have Dominion, a fuckin’ devastating, robust tune (it can’t get any better than this!) tailored for lovers of modern Blackened Death Metal, where Masha and Donets are true beasts on vocals and drums, respectively; followed by Walker From The Shade,  with Masha growling deeper and deeper while Max and Leo continue their guitar onslaught, supported by the metallic lines by bassist Max Senchilo. Furthermore, the “evil Arch Enemy” offer us more of their melodious riffs and solos, not to mention the epic and menacing vibe crafted by all instruments.

nordwitchIn the top-tier chant Lady Evil, the fast and cataclysmic beats by Donets, together with the song’s great riffage and another infernal performance by Masha on vocals, turn it into one the most flammable moments of the album. Moreover, Max delivers an awesome guitar solo at the end just to make the song even more thrilling than what it already is. The Call To An Ancient Evil brings forward a brutal beginning to another sensational creation by NordWitch, where Masha seems to declaim the words in a guttural way instead of screaming them, whereas the musicality sounds very technical and progressive at times mainly thanks to the high level of intricacy found in the song’s guitars and drums. And highly influenced by Scandinavian Extreme Metal, the most epic composition by NordWitch and also one of the best of the album, the rip-roaring To Nord Gods, contains all elements we love in this type of music, including a Viking Metal acoustic intro perfect for the theme proposed by the band, a beautiful pace led by the guitar lines and solos by Max and Leo, and Masha telling a compelling story through her powerful guttural vocals.

In the last two songs of Mørk Profeti, the band’s Blackened Death Metal arises like the burning fires of the underworld similar to what the iconic Behemoth usually do, starting with No Regret, with elements of Thrash and Death Metal added to its already explosive formula, always making sure there’s a huge amount of harmony and cohesiveness amidst the sonic chaos generated by the entire band. And lastly, more Nordic sounds penetrate our ears and minds in the furious chant Messiah Of Death, where Donets is impressive with his precision and rage on drums while Masha gnarls like a female demon, closing such potent opus magnificently.

In my humble opinion, we should all follow the ascension of NordWitch through their Facebook page and VKontakte, and of course blast our ears with their demonic music through their YouTube channel and ReverbNation, because this band is definitely going places and if you love metal like I do you’ll also be very curious to know how high they can go. Mørk Profeti, which can be purchased at the Satanath Records’ BandCamp or webstore, is not only the first stone in their rising castle of darkness, but an album that will put you to bang your head and raise your horns nonstop, which is pretty much everything we want in good heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Dominion, Lady Evil and To Nord Gods.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Satanath Records/Darzamadicus Records

Track listing
1. Mørk Profeti (Intro) 2:53
2. Dominion 5:27
3. Walker From The Shade 4:33
4. Lady Evil 4:44
5. The Call To An Ancient Evil 5:22
6. To Nord Gods 4:53
7. No Regret 5:15
8. Messiah Of Death 5:08

Band members
Masha – vocals
Max – lead guitar
Leo – rhythm guitar
Max Senchilo – bass
Donets Stepan – drums