Album Review – Axxen Conners / Nowhere to Escape Sins EP (2016)

And the calm and turquoise waters of Antalya will never be the same after the turmoil of extreme music generated by this up-and-coming masked duo from hell.

Rating5

album-coverThe Turkish city of Antalya, the country’s biggest international sea resort located on the Turkish Riviera and a gateway to Turkey’s southern Mediterranean region, known as the Turquoise Coast for its blue waters, is about to have its peaceful and breathtaking landscapes intensely disturbed by a wicked turmoil of extreme music crafted by a new dynamic duo known as Axxen Conners. If you’re planning on visiting the city anytime soon to enjoy its beaches and atmosphere, you better watch out because Axxen Conners might be hiding in the shadows just waiting to attack you when you least expect.

Formed in 2015 by the sinful outlaws Bilge Ozce (known as Serpent) and Serdar Evren (known as Croc), Axxen Conners somehow managed to turn all the usual inspiration that comes from a place like Antalya upside down. In other words, instead of playing any type of beach-like smooth music for teenage girls, they decided to join the dark side of music and fire a high-octane fusion of Progressive Black and Death Metal upon humanity. Hence, the result of their rebelliousness and passion for heavy music can be seen in Nowhere to Escape Sins, the technical and very enjoyable debut EP by this unstoppable masked duo of darkness.

And now, ladies and gentleman, get ready to dance with Serpent and Croc in the first of the three tracks of the EP, entitled Behind The Walls Of Primal Existence, where an atmospheric intro by guest keyboardist Brook gradually morphs into a metallic blend of Melodic Death, Black and Power Metal. While Serpent begins spilling his venomous gnarls, Croc focus on his harmonious and aggressive riffs and solos, bringing more balance to the overall result. The special musicality generated by Axxen Conners in this tune is what happens when progressiveness and obscurity meet in metal music, I should say.

_mg_9239Not only Serpent is Axxen Conners’ lead singer, but he’s also the drummer and bassist for the project, and as you’ll notice in the puissant and extremely belligerent Creator Became Absolute he simply loves to smash his drum set and his four-stringed low-tuned weapon. Flirting with contemporary Black Metal (especially its demonic aura and high-pitched demon growls), this devilish hymn showcases all the refined skills of the duo, sounding like an established full-bodied band even being two brand new guys from the independent scene. That alone deserves a lot of respect from us headbangers, no doubt about that.

In the third and last composition, beautifully named Cursed Messiah For Doomed Society, the guitar lines by Croc lean towards pure Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy with hints of Amon Amarth, resulting in a musicality absolutely opposed to what we call “mainstream”, which by the way is always a good thing in Extreme Metal. Moreover, the right amount of progressiveness led by Croc’s ominous synths and the beats and fills by Serpent are exactly what Serpent needs to vociferate the song’s lyrics, which as excpeted do not point to a happy ending (“Fuelled by fear / All living things will perish / The lost from the world above / have nowhere to escape sins / Feel the Hellish dreams / Death to those who stray from the path / hear the voice of dark destruction / your body  will rot in pain”).

I personally consider Nowhere to Escape Sins a debut way beyond expectations for Axxen Conners taking into account the limited resources Serpent and Croc have available for generating music in their homeland, and I’m curious to know what those masked metallers could offer the world of heavy music with proper support. Well, I just saw that they became part of the Butcher Records family, which means we now should patiently wait to see what surprises that will bring to us all and the impact that will have on their musicality. In the meantime, don’t forget to like their Facebook page, enjoy their music through their YouTube channel and on Spotify, and if possible purchase Nowhere to Escape Sins through their BandCamp page.

Best moments of the album: Creator Became Absolute.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing  
1. Behind The Walls Of Primal Existence 4:03
2. Creator Became Absolute 3:24
3. Cursed Messiah For Doomed Society 4:58

Band members
Serpent – vocals, bass, drums
Croc – guitars, synths, backing vocals

Guest musician
Brook – keyboards on “Behind The Walls Of Primal Existence”

Live musicians
Brook – keyboards
Oni – guitars
Todd – drums

Album Review – Sirenia / The Seventh Life Path (2015)

If dark and symphonic music is what you want, Mr. Morten Veland and his crew are always there to help satisfy your craving.

Rating4

sirenia_the seventh life pathDeliberately entitled The Seventh Life Path, the seventh (got it?) full-length album by Norwegian Gothic/Symphonic Metal band Sirenia has everything it takes to please diehard fans of the band and newcomers to the world of symphonic music: melodic instrumentals, wicked synthesizers, a powerful choir, the charming female vocals by Spanish diva Ailyn Giménez and, of course, the iconic Morten Veland.

Perhaps one of the most interesting components in The Seventh Life Path is its artwork, designed by renowned artist Gyula Havancsák of Hjules Illustration and Design, whose latest works can be seen in the new albums by Ensiferum and Grave Digger, for example. It’s a very detailed illustration, where the artist and the band clearly wanted to augment the importance and meaning of the number seven to the album. “The 7 number appears as 7 ravens, 7 snakes, 7 roses on the dried out wreath…”, said Gyula about this peculiarity in an interview.

However, it’s not just the artwork that makes The Seventh Life Path a good album, but the music itself. As soon as the symphonic and imposing intro Seti begins, it already embraces the listener and sets the tone for the next track, the (at the same time) creepy and captivating Serpent.  Ailyn and Morten provide a beautiful balance of clean female vocals and harsh growls, and even with the presence of some Gothic passages the song ends up sounding truly metallic and symphonic. Once My Light is a lot more “commercial” due to the focus on the smooth vocal lines by Ailyn and the less imposing instrumental, also providing us all a lovely atmosphere and eerie passages with a Gothic touch that only Morten is capable of crafting.

In Elixir, featuring Joakim Næss on clean vocals (who by the way already worked with the band in Perils of the Deep Blue), modernity and tradition are put together, while just the intro in Sons Of The North already kicks ass by itself even before the main portion of the music takes shape. It’s a motherfuckin’ epic ode to Scandinavia, almost a Norse hymn, where the deep growls by Morten, all the orchestrations and especially the choir are flawless. Besides, the lyrics are far from being original (“Here the thunder and lightning / Are both enforced by the mighty Thor / We are the sons of legends / We are sons of myths and lore / Our legacy is forever / Behold its radiance forevermore”), but they didn’t really need to be to sound amazing. They kept it simple, and it worked pretty well. However, once again embraced by symphonic elements, Earendel (or Aurvandil) doesn’t live up to its predecessor, getting too generic after a while even with all the breaks and variations.

sireniaWith a denser sonority and a faster pace, where drummer Jonathan A. Perez showcases his more ferocious skills, Concealed Disdain has one significant issue in my opinion: I find Ailyn’s voice too low during the whole song, preventing it from being a lot more pleasant. On the other hand, sounding like old school Tristania enhanced by the more contemporary musicality by Sirenia, the excellent Insania shows beyond doubt that Morten is a terrific musician, with highlights to its synths and drums for adding so much power to the final result. I also love when Morten goes back in time and revives his darkest side in lyrics like the ones found in Contemptuous Quitus (“You’re the torn in my heart / You will tear me apart / You’re a plague and a curse / Contemptuous quietus”), and besides, I must say I was eager for some heavier riffs, which are finally delivered in this song.

The last two tracks of the regular version of The Seventh Life Path are also well-engendered and contribute to the overall quality of the album. Firstly, The Silver Eye, which could have been just a little shorter, sounds like Symphonic Black Metal in many of its moments, with Ailyn and Morten making a good vocal duo once again. And secondly, we have the Gothic ballad Tragedienne, with Ailyn’s voice and the piano notes being its centre pieces. Of course what I’m going to say is not a universal truth, but I believe fans of Tristania will enjoy it more than fans of Sirenia. In addition, there’s also a Spanish version for this song as a bonus track depending on the version of the album you acquire.

In short, if what Sirenia wanted to achieve with The Seventh Life Path was a well-balanced and energizing continuation to their entertaining career, keeping the names of Morten and Ailyn alive in the minds of Gothic and Symphonic Metal partisans, they more than succeeded in their quest. And if you are one of those dark music supporters, you should thank Morten and his crew for always bringing forth your favorite type of music, just like what is presented in The Seventh Life Path.

Best moments of the album: Serpent, Sons Of The North and Insania.

Worst moments of the album: Earendel and Concealed Disdain.

Released in 2015 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Seti 2:05
2. Serpent 6:31
3. Once My Light 7:21
4. Elixir (featuring Joakim Næss) 5:45
5. Sons Of The North 8:16
6. Earendel 6:14
7. Concealed Disdain 6:11
8. Insania 6:39
9. Contemptuous Quitus 6:29
10. The Silver Eye 7:29
11. Tragedienne 4:54

Bonus track
12. Tragica (Spanish version of Tragedienne) 4:55

Band members
Morten Veland – guitars, vocals, bass, piano, synth, mandolin, programming
Ailyn – female vocals
Jan Erik Soltvedt – guitars
Jonathan A. Perez – drums

Guest musicians
Joakim Næss – clean male vocals on “Elixir”
Damien Surian – choir
Emilie Bernou – choir
Emmanuelle Zoldan – choir
Mathieu Landry – choir