Album Review – Nemesis / The War Is On (2020)

Waging war on mankind, this all-female Melodic Death Metal unity from Serbia will pulverize your senses with their astonishing debut album.

If you’re a fan of female-fronted Melodic Death Metal and old school Death Metal bands the likes of Arch Enemy, The Agonist, Nervosa and Abnormality, you’ll undoubtedly have an absolute blast with Belgrade, Serbia-based all-female Melodic Death Metal unity Nemesis, who has recently released their debut full-length installment entitled The War Is On. Mixed, mastered and produced by Luka Matković at Citadela Sound Production, and featuring a modern artwork and a sharp design by Serbian artists Vladimir Milovanović and Branislav Crvenkovic, The War Is On offers us all a superb balance between sheer brutality and melodious passages, captivating our senses from start to finish and presenting all the ability and passion for heavy music by frontwoman Sanja Drča, guitarists Aleksandra Petrović and Tijana Milivojević, bassist Biljana Sovilj and drummer Selena Simić, therefore proving it might have taken a while for those unrelenting women to release their first album since their inception in 2013, but the final result is grandiose, vibrant and absolutely honest and fresh.

The quintet doesn’t waste a single second and begin their feast of extreme and melodic sounds in Wake Up, led by the razor-edge, heavy-as-hell riffs by Aleksandra and Tijana while Selena smashes her drum set with tons of rage and power, followed by Uprising, bringing forward thrashing lyrics growled by the talented she-wolf Sanja (“Do you see the fire that burns in our eyes / Give us the truth, stop feeding us with your lies / Time is for persecution / No more this mass confusion!”) supported by the Arch Enemy-inspired sounds form her bandmates in an awesome fusion of harmony and violence. And a dense and imposing ambience will put you to bang your head nonstop in Oppression, a Melodic Death Metal tune infused with the more visceral elements from Thrash and Death Metal with Sanja and Selena kicking some serious ass with their respective roars and thunderous beats, not to mention the beautiful groove brought forth by Biljana’s bass punches.

Once again showcasing the band’s unstoppable guitar duo firing their Michael Amott-inspired riffs and solos, the band brings forth Divine Retribution, with the additional vocals by guests Stefan Tomić and Milica Jovanov providing a phantasmagorical support to Sanja’s demonic screams, whereas in Living Dead People we’re treated to almost six minutes of ass-kicking Melodic Death Metal tailored for pulverizing our ears and minds with an insane amount of electricity and rebelliousness. Moreover, Biljana and Selena will shake the foundations of the earth with their rumbling bass and drums, making it impossible to stand still to such thrilling composition. And it’s time for more of their adrenaline-fueled metal music in the form of Savages, where Aleksandra and Tijana display all their skills and addiction to heavy music with their refined riffage, keeping the album at a humongous level of savagery for our vulgar delectation.

In Dead End we face grim, poetic lyrics darkly gnarled by Sanja (“I cannot hold it, I’ve had enough / Watching the world becoming rough / Headless beasts, stripped of the skin / New generation, new king!”), while Selena offers her heavy artillery on drums, being therefore perfect for cracking your neck headbanging, and less infernal and more melodious than the previous songs, Pandemonium has an obscure vibe that’s beautifully complemented by the stunning solos by Aleksandra, resulting in the epitome of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Back to their trademark berserk mode, the girls pulverize everything and everyone with their endless groove, aggressiveness and dexterity in Born Worthless, with Selena dictating the pace with her vicious beats while the guitars sound truly venomous and piercing. And last but not least, the title-track The War Is On will fuel the listener with the utmost depiction of the band’s hellish musicality, sounding and feeling bold, dense and austere from start to finish, with Sanja providing our ears a lesson in female harsh growls.

This precious gem of contemporary extreme music made in Serbia can be streamed in its entirety on Spotify, but as usual you should obviously grab a copy of the album from the Grom Records website, from Amazon or from Discogs to show those skillful Serbian women your true respect and appreciation for their music. In addition, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram to keep up to date with all things Nemesis, including their tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their crushing music and apocalyptic videos. I honestly hope Nemesis can continue to pave their path of destruction with their Melodic Death Metal for the following years and even decades, going against all odds and crushing all the barriers and hassles they might find on their way due to the fact they’re a pure underground band. And if they succeed in their quest for metal, I’m sure we metalheads will all have some awesome reasons to smile and bang our heads to the sound of their sensational creations, just like what we can find in one of the best underground albums of the year, the breathtaking The War Is On.

Best moments of the album: Uprising, Oppression, Living Dead People and The War Is On.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Grom Records

Track listing
1. Wake Up 3:07
2. Uprising 3:22
3. Oppression 3:28
4. Divine Retribution 3:55
5. Living Dead People 5:37
6. Savages 3:36
7. Dead End 3:51
8. Pandemonium 3:26
9. Born Worthless 3:52
10. The War Is On 4:06

Band members
Sanja Drča – vocals
Aleksandra Petrović – lead guitar
Tijana Milivojević – rhythm guitar
Biljana Sovilj – bass
Selena Simić – drums

Guest musicians
Stefan Tomić – additional vocals on “Divine Retribution”
Milica Jovanov – additional vocals on “Divine Retribution”

Album Review – All My Sins / Pra Sila – Vukov Totem (2018)

Immerse yourself into a work of windswept mysticism and pure pagan fury dedicated to the most important and powerful totem in the culture of southern Slavs.

Originating from the southern regions of Europe, Serbian Black Metal duo All My Sins was officially formed by multi-instrumentalists Nav Cosmos and V in the year of 2000 in the city of Pančevo around the idea of claiming their own place among the already-established Second Wave of Black Metal. Inspired by the spiritual heritage of the land they come from, the band started making records, each of them conceptually placed around certain mythological symbols such as their brand new opus entitled Pra Sila – Vukov Totem, which would be roughly translated to English as “The Primordial Force of the Wolf’s Totem”, a work of windswept mysticism and pure pagan fury dedicated to the most important and powerful totem in the culture of southern Slavs, the wolf.

Featuring a somber cover art by Romanian musician and artist Daniel Dorobantu (Thy Veils) and guest musicians Nemir, Khargash and Jaguar (from underground Serbian bands like Obscured and Terrörhammer), All My Sins’ newborn eight-track album portrays the wolf as the ancient ancestor of Serbian people, a creature with unusual attributes that is believed to possess obscure divine powers, narrating a vast spiritual journey throughout the realms of southern Slavic mysticism. The meeting of man and wolf, mystically dangerous yet magnificent at the same time, depicts the encounter with a demonic being and concurrently the moment when a man meets his native forefather. In the world of wilderness abandoned by man, contradictory and strong, the wolf represents everything we are not, unknown and terrifying, or the perfection of a stranger.

In the opening track Vukov Totem, or “Totem of the Wolf”, a demented blast of visceral Black Metal invades our ears mercilessly, with V pulverizing his strings with his violent shredding while Nemir shakes the foundations of the earth with his blast beats before a cosmic break turns the sonic devastation into a more progressive and atmospheric extravaganza. Their incendiary feast of Slavic Black Metal goes on in Zov iz Magle, or “A Call from the Mist”, where Nav Cosmos roars and gnarls powerfully from the bottom of his blackened heart, with the entire song feeling very dense, enfolding and also bringing some deep, phantasmagorical clean vocals, while its instrumental parts remind me of old school Norwegian Black Metal; followed by Vetrovo Kolo, or “The Wheel of the Wind”, another brutal explosion of extreme sounds by All My Sins where Nemir sounds even more enraged and bestial on drums, while Nav Cosmos vociferates manically. Furthermore, the song’s razor-edged guitar riffs will violently pierce your mind and soul, leaving you completely disoriented after all is said and done. And U Mlazevima Krvi, or “In the Streams of Blood”, brings forward devastation, rage, madness and top-notch Pagan Black Metal to our ears. What else can you ask for, right? Moreover, Nav Cosmos’ deranged growls in his mother tongue end up adding an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality, just like what happens in the whole album.

Then it’s time to get smashed into the circle pit to the fulminating Opsena, or “The Phantasm”, showcasing almost eight minutes of crushing Black Metal with Atmospheric Black Metal nuances while V continues to brutalize his strings powerfully, with the music morphing into a completely new sonority after a cryptic, somber passage, feeling a lot more melodic and introspective. In the bridge Mesecu u Oko, or “Towards the Moon’s Eye”, wicked, Stygian noises are spiced up by Nav Cosmo’s anguished gnarls, flowing into over 10 minutes of a beyond atmospheric display of contemporary Black Metal named Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Prvi), or “The Final Equinox (Act I)”, sounding epic and bold from start to finish, with Nemir delivering sheer darkness through his crisp drumming, until melancholy permeates the air in Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi), or “The Final Equinox (Act II)”, featuring guest Khargash on bass and backing vocals. This is a fantastic Atmospheric Black Metal chant infused with hints of Doom Metal, remaining as sluggish and grim as it can be and, therefore, putting a pensive ending to such demolishing album of Pagan Black Metal.

Brewing since the ancient days, Pra Sila – Vukov Totem (available for a full listen on YouTube) is now being released into the modern era with a timelessness that’s exciting to behold, and you can savor that first-class fusion of Black Metal and the Slavic culture by purchasing the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Saturnal Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Amazon, or from Discogs. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on VKontakte, and immerse yourself into a sensational world of South Slavic Black Metal mysticism crafted by this talented and undisputed Serbian duo.

Best moments of the album: Vukov Totem, Vetrovo Kolo and U Mlazevima Krvi.

Worst moments of the album: Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi).

Released in 2018 Saturnal Records

Track listing
1. Vukov Totem 9:43
2. Zov iz Magle 7:56
3. Vetrovo Kolo 6:25
4. U Mlazevima Krvi 3:52
5. Opsena 7:57
6. Mesecu u Oko 1:19
7. Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Prvi) 10:25
8. Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi) 8:10

Band members
Nav Cosmos – vocals, recitals, bass
V – guitars, bass, clean and backing vocals, recitals, keys, vrg

Guest musicians
Nemir – drums (session)
Khargash – bass, backing vocals on “Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi)”
Jaguar – backing vocals on “U Mlazevima Krvi”

Album Review – Bane / Esoteric Formulae (2018)

Conjuring visions of darkness, pain and frost, this Montreal-based Blackened Death Metal horde has poured their charred hearts into spawning their third and most complete opus to date.

Originally founded in 2006 in Novi Sad, a city in northern Serbia on the banks of the Danube River, but currently based out of Montreal, in the province of Quebec, Canada, Blackened Death Metal horde Bane has poured their charred hearts into this third full-length release, entitled Esoteric Formulae, a masterwork that leads many influences to an evil culmination, with each track being atmosphere-evoking, filling the soundscape with nocturnal melodies and conjuring visions of darkness, pain and frost. With several tours under their belts as well as countless concerts and festival performances in the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria and Poland, among several other countries, Bane continue to push the limits of their unique blend of Blackened Death Metal to the world of the underground, and Esoteric Formulae is the perfect depiction of where the band is headed to.

Featuring a classy artwork by Indonesian graphic artist and illustrator Bahrull Marta (Abomination Imagery), Esoteric Formulae not only showcases a sharp and malevolent duo comprised of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Branislav and drummer Honza Kapak (Master’s Hammer), but also the additional (and very welcome) devilish touches by guest musicians Giulio Moschini (Hour Of Penance), Amduscias (Temple Of Baal) and Canadian composer Ophélie Gingras, enhancing the album’s taste and impact considerably. Put differently, if you’re a fan of the dark, blasphemous and very melodic music by iconic acts like Dissection, Behemoth and Rotting Christ, Esoteric Formulae will bring you a lot of (evil) joy without a shadow of a doubt, placing Bane as one of your top picks from the underground and independent Extreme Metal scene.

Invocation Of The Nameless One is a beautiful, ominous intro embraced by the epic orchestrations by Ophélie Gingras, setting the stage for Branislav and Honza to deliver sheer darkness in The Calling Of The Eleven Angles, a brutal Blackened Death Metal extravaganza where Branislav’s roars get deeper and more demonic while Honza provides a huge dosage of heaviness with his beats and fills; followed by Beneath The Black Earth, and such powerful name could only be accompanied by a crushing sonority, of course, with Branislav doing a fantastic job with his pulverizing riffs and rumbling bass lines, resulting in a vibrant, modern and obscure display of extreme music for admirers of the genre.

Then drinking form the same fountain of iconic bands like Behemoth and Dragonlord, Bane offer our avid ears Bringer Of Pandimensional Disorder, where Black Metal blast beats are intertwined with very melodic and strident guitar lines, all embraced by the cryptic, hellish words vociferated by Branislav (“I call upon the currents – of Wrathful Chaos / Let the oceans of formlessness – into this world / Awaken by the esoteric formulae / Open the gates to the Astral plane of the dark Water / Bringer of Pandimensional Disorder!”). Wretched Feast keeps the album at a sulfurous level, presenting gripping guitars and nonstop beats, and with guest Giulio Moschini adding his own personal twist to the music with his fiery guitar solo, whereas in Into Oblivion, featuring Amduscias as a guest vocalist, Bane summon all evil through their violent Blackened Death Metal, also bringing elements form Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir to their already dense musicality.

And they keep scorching our hearts and minds with their visceral Black Metal in Burning The Remains, a mid-tempo, infernal tune where the guitar lines alternate between sheer malignancy and hypnotizing lines, while Honza adds tons of intricacy and strength to the overall result with his bestial drumming. Putting the pedal to the metal, Bane deliver a violent and thrilling tune titled Reign In Chaos, presenting hints of Melodic Death Metal and of the music by Cradle of Filth, which obviously boosts the song’s impact and taste considerably and, therefore, turns it into one of the top moments of the album. Lastly, like a bulldozer smashing our heads, Honza ignites the also vile and metallic Acosmic Forces Of The Nightside, where the duo makes their devilish waves fill every single empty space in a feast of instrumental darkness, before the atmospheric outro Wrathful Reflections brings back a massive wall of orchestrations, finally fading into absolute darkness and void.

In a nutshell, the excellent Esoteric Formulae, available from Bane’s own BandCamp page as well as from the Black Market Metal Label’s Big Cartel, is definitely a must-have album for fans of contemporary and sulfurous Blackened Death Metal, consequently setting the bar really high for the band’s future releases. After purchasing such excellent album, you can also show your utmost support to Branislav and his horde by following Bane on Facebook and by subscribing to their YouTube channel, letting all the aforementioned darkness, pain and frost flowing from the music found in Esoteric Formulae guide you on a one-way journey to the depths of the netherworld.

Best moments of the album: Beneath The Black Earth, Into Oblivion and Reign In Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Black Market Metal Label

Track listing
1. Invocation Of The Nameless One 1:15
2. The Calling Of The Eleven Angles 3:46
3. Beneath The Black Earth 3:35
4. Bringer Of Pandimensional Disorder 3:49
5. Wretched Feast (feat. Giulio Moschini) 3:46
6. Into Oblivion (feat. Amduscias) 4:34
7. Burning The Remains 4:01
8. Reign In Chaos 3:30
9. Acosmic Forces Of The Nightside 5:27
10. Wrathful Reflections 1:59

Band members
Branislav – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Honza Kapak – drums

Guest musicians
Giulio Moschini – guitar solo on “Wretched Feast”
Amduscias – vocals on “Into Oblivion”
Ophélie Gingras – orchestrations on “Invocation Of The Nameless One” and “Wrathful Reflections”

Current/live lineup
Branislav – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Max Allard – guitars, backing vocals
Stéphane Deschênes – bass
Nicholas Wells – drums