Album Review – Jollymon / Void Walker (2018)

A lesson in groove, electricity and punch by an American Stoner Metal power trio reborn from the ashes in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, more specifically from Vancouver, a city on the north bank of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, Stoner Metal outfit Jollymon has just released their fifth full-length album titled Void Walker, their first in eighteen years and a lesson in groove, electricity and punch. Comprised of frontman and songwriter Carey Rich on vocals and bass, John Colgate on guitar and vocals, and Mark Blackburn on drums, Jollymon were originally formed in Eugene, Oregon, releasing their debut full-length album, Sailing, in 1995, followed by a stream of high-quality albums until the band exploded in 2000 with no plans to return, until the power trio began to talk, jam and work on a batch of songs that would become their newborn child. “Whereas the previous four records were more grungy rock songs, the material on Void Walker is more on the metal side. But, we managed to keep the space-rock element, and even turned it up,” comments Carey on the band’s shift of direction with Void Walker.

Another thing Carey notices about Void Walker compared to the band’s previous releases is that the album is clearer and better produced. “We’ve come full circle with our recording approach. The first and second albums had great studio gear with Grammy-nominated producer Drew Canulette running the show. However, the third was a lesser studio done on more of a budget. And, the fourth album, our self-titled one, was a home studio recording. Sure, it sounds good, but you can definitely hear the quality difference between it and Void Walker – or even our first two records, for that matter.” He also explained that the album is entitled Void Walker because it is what Jollymon’s name should be. “Void Walker is a kind of symbol of what our sound is. It’s hard to describe, because it’s really left up to the imagination, which has been more of what we are: less wordy, forced lyrics, but simple imaginative shorelines with an epic soundtrack to back whatever is said.”

Old school ass-kicking Rock N’ Roll permeates the atmosphere in the psychedelic and catchy opening track Tsunami, led by the deep vocals by Carey while John mesmerizes us all with his wicked riffs and solos, followed by Monkeyhawk, where an eccentric intro turns into a very progressive tune, with John’s guitar lines being flawlessly complemented by Mark’s groovy beats, not to mention the song’s wicked lyrics, something you can only find in Sludge Metal (“Monkeyhawks not black or white, makin love giving life to fire, Monkeyhawk baby sings a song, its gonna make me cry, its gonna make me cry…”). And inspired by the potent and unique music by Mastodon, the trio fires a dancing-headbanging-beer-drinking extravaganza titled A Good Day, with Corey showcasing an awesome vocal performance while Mark’s precise drumming keeps the rhythm vibrant and entertaining from start to finish.

Less piercing and more rhythmic, Be Nice presents the band’s “softer” side in a 70’s-inspired Rock N’ Roll vibe, perfect for warming up the night at a rock pub anywhere in the world (and you’ll definitely feel compelled to sing the chorus along with them). After that classic rock tune we have Slice of Life, perhaps the most psychedelic of all songs, where the trio extracts pure groove form their instruments, in special John with his hypnotizing guitar while Mark is responsible for bringing heat to the musicality; followed by Forecast, where all you need to do is simply close your eyes and let Jollymon guide you on a whimsical music journey. John is simply superb with his sick guitar solos, and the music remains ethereal and captivating until its gentle ending for our total delight.

The metallic bass lines by Corey ignite the rockin’ feast Missile Commander, another solid composition by the band with John and Mark being in absolute sync, therefore providing Corey all he needs to thrive on vocals, whereas the title-track Void Walker is a flawless fusion of Stoner and Progressive Metal, proudly representing the high quality of the music found in the entire album with an electrifying vibe morphing into Progressive Rock beautifully, all in line with the song’s enthralling lyrics (“Here we go away through the sky, / here we go wade through the fields, / wondering where are lives, are drifting / away through the wheel. / With wings so wide and no room to soar, / before you can fly, you must find the floor. / A picture of the rain, when it falls it won’t feel the same.”). And last but not least, the closing song of the album, entitled Sky Burial, is just as pleasant and soulful as its predecessors, with John kicking some serious ass with his fiery guitar solos.

Do you want to surf the rockin’ waves blasted by Jollymon and show your appreciation for such distinct underground band? You can follow them on Facebook, listen to more of their music on YouTube, and grab your copy of Void Walker (which by the way you can listen in full on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Amazon or from CD Baby. Let’s hope Jollymon don not explode again after the release of Void Walker, but based on the awesomeness found in the album and the way the band is facing this new phase in their career I’m pretty sure we don’t have to worry about that at all. Quite the contrary, those three dauntless musicians will surely keep on rockin’ in our free world and keep marveling us all with their sensational music.

Best moments of the album: Monkeyhawk, A Good Day and Void Walker.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Tsunami 3:48
2. Monkeyhawk 4:43
3. A Good Day 3:56
4. Be Nice 3:46
5. Slice of Life 3:50
6. Forecast 4:07
7. Missile Commander 2:35
8. Void Walker 4:50
9. Sky Burial 5:02

Band members
Carey Rich – vocals, bass
John Colgate – guitar, vocals
Mark Blackburn – drums

Album Review – Black Box Warning / Attendre La Mort EP (2018)

A high dosage of Sludge and Doom Metal split in five corrosive tracks recommended for fans of devastatingly heavy, sulfur-smelling tunes, courtesy of an up-and-coming French power trio.

Their medicine is not a syrup. Formed in 2015, French Doom/Sludge Metal band Black Box Warning is here to offer us all a heavy über rhythm section, staggering as a depressive overdose of neuroleptics ready to commit the irreparable to silence the voices in his head, obscure guitar sticks and a black tar singing that graze your brain and you inexorably asphyxiate neurons. Comprised of Kevin Dubois d’Enghien on vocals and guitar, Hervé Bettios on bass and Julien Rousset on drums, this French unity is releasing their debut EP titled Attendre La Mort, or “waiting for death” in English, featuring a dark artwork by Gilles Da Costa and five corrosive and downtrodden tracks highly recommended for fans of devastatingly heavy, sulfur-smelling tunes à la Crowbar, Primitive Man and Old Man Gloom.

It takes the power trio only a few seconds to blast an overdose of heavy, sluggish sounds in the opening track, titled 5 mg, with Kevin firing some deep, obscure growls while Hervé and Julien keep the music dense, menacing and thunderous with their sharp bass lines and beats, respectively. Then faster, more aggressive beats and tones ignite another Sludge and Doom Metal extravaganza by the power trio, this time lowering the dosage and naming it 4 mg, before morphing into that old school sluggish-as-hell Stoner Metal sonority we all love so much. Furthermore, the strident sound of the guitar by Kevin brings a touch of finesse to the music, boosting its impact and taste considerably, with its last part being a frantic fusion of sounds with Julien smashing his drums furiously while Hervé extracts devilish roars from his bass guitar.

1 mg, the lowest dosage of the album, begins in the most traditional Sludge Metal way, flowing smoothly but at the same time violently from start to finish, with highlights to its neck-breaking rhythm led by the intricate beats by Julien; and the distorted bass by Hervé kicks off the most Stygian of all tracks of the EP, 2 mg, with the beats by Julien getting more intense and vibrant while Kevin slashes his guitar strings mercilessly, generating a rumbling and captivating sonority. And 3 mg, the last track of the EP, brings sheer aggressiveness and heaviness spearheaded by Kevin and his demonic gnarls, resulting in another tune perfect for banging your head nonstop with the band’s stringed duo blasting flammable, metallic lines while Julien once again doesn’t show any mercy for his drums.

In case you want to have an overdose of Black Box Warning, you can enjoy all 15 mg of the corrosive Sludge and Doom Metal found in Attendre La Mort at once on YouTube or on Spotify, and purchase your copy of the album from their official BandCamp page, as well as from several other locations. In addition, you can also keep an eye on all things Black Box Warning by following them on Facebook, on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and never miss your necessary dosage of crushing riffs and aggressive roars thanks to this talented power trio of Sludge Metal doctors.

Best moments of the album: 4 mg.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. 5 mg 3:37
2. 4 mg 5:54
3. 1 mg 4:28
4. 2 mg 5:47
5. 3 mg 3:26

Band members
Kevin Dubois d’Enghien – vocals, guitar
Hervé Bettios – bass
Julien Rousset – drums

Album Review – Altars of Grief / Iris (2018)

Highly influenced by the desolate landscapes and the solitude of long, prairie winters, here comes one of the biggest names in Canadian Blackened Doom with a superb new album narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.

Formed in November 2013 in Regina, the capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, Blackened Doom act Altars of Grief has worked over the years to develop a weighty concoction of Death Metal, Sludge Metal, Funeral Doom and Atmospheric Black Metal along with a strong focus on storytelling and the desire to convey authentic emotion, highly influenced by the desolate landscapes and the solitude of long, prairie winters that inspired the moniker of “Prairie Doom Metal”. After the release of their 2014 debut fill-length album This Shameful Burden, the band returns in full force with the bold and multi-layered Iris, narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter, named Iris.

Featuring a stunning artwork by Travis Smith from Seempieces, brilliantly depicting Iris’ final moments as she kneels before the winter beset church and embraces her fate, and the mesmerizing cello by Raphael Weinroth-Browne (who by the way played cello for Canadian Folk/Melodic Black Metal band Thrawsunblat on their amazing 2016 opus Metachthonia), Iris is not just an album of heavy music, but an amalgamation of emotions that will transport your mind and soul to the desolation of the prairies. “The story of Iris is very much rooted in our prairie surroundings and deals with the struggles of addiction, sickness and religion. A father finds himself unable to connect with and care for his young daughter, Iris, who has fallen seriously ill. Spiraling deeper and deeper into his vices, and feeling rejected by Iris’ new found and unwavering faith, he gets into his car and decides to leave her behind. Somewhere along the icy road, he loses control of his vehicle and perishes. His purgatory is to watch helplessly as Iris slowly succumbs to her illness without him”, comments the band’s lead singer Damian Smith.

Melancholy and grief permeate the air in the opening track Isolation, a masterpiece of darkness led by the strident and somber guitars by Erik Labossiere and Evan Paulson, while Damian obscurely declaims the song’s lyrics through his anguished gnarls, proving why he’s a poet of the underworld. Hence, the music flows majestically until its grand finale, setting the tone for Desolation, where a Stygian atmosphere is suddenly joined by heavy-as-hell riffs and the crushing Black Metal beats by Zack Bellina, also presenting introspective and touching words (“I opened my eyes / To the night sky / The unending storm / Revealed itself before me / Weightless in my resolve / But, still a burden remains / With this final breath / Please, forgive me”). Moreover, it’s simply impressive how Altars of Grief can sound so distinct from one song to another, also bringing forth a perfect balance between harsh growls and deep clean vocals.

The title-track Iris brings forward more of the band’s enfolding musicality, blending the aggressiveness of Atmospheric Black Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal, also presenting very subtle nuances of Melodic Black Metal. In addition, Erik and Evan once again fire a mix of rage and harmony through their flammable strings, enhancing the taste of this very complete and bold composition. Then we have Child of Light, where an epic and melancholic intro evolves into a full-bodied sound, and with Zack together with bassist Donny Pinay building a massive, atmospheric wall of sounds with their instruments, generating the perfect ambience for all vocal styles used by the band; followed by Broken Hymns, another captivating, neck-breaking tune where Raphael is truly outstanding with his cello, adding a marvelous touch of delicacy and melancholy to the overall musicality. In other words, this is a song tailored for closing your eyes and letting the band guide your mind and soul to their dark and mournful world.

And Altars of Grief personify the grievous, obscure voices of the bitterly cold winds of winter in the Atmospheric Black Metal extravaganza titled Voices of Winter, with Damian’s growls being delicately complemented by Raphael’s stunning cello sounds and the whimsical guitars by Erik and Evan, whereas in Becoming Intangible the sound of the cello and the acoustic guitars walk hand in hand in the smoothest way possible before morphing into contemporary extreme music, sounding very atmospheric, gripping and bold until its beyond piercing ending. Zack is once again a beast on drums, not to mention the latent poetry found in the song’s lyrics (“I can barely see the sun / I guess this path was truly flawed / Judgement comes with revelation / And, I’ve never felt so close to God”), flowing into one of the most beautiful outros in underground extreme music, titled Epilogue, performed by Raphael and his always astounding cello.

You can listen to Iris in its entirety on YouTube, follow Altars of Grief on Facebook, and purchase your copy of this masterpiece of the underworld from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore in distinct bundles (Iris CD, Iris CD + Nachtterror / Altars of Grief – Of Ash and Dying Light vinyl split, Iris CD + shirt + patch, and Iris CD + Nachtterror / Altars of Grief vinyl split + shirt + patch), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. If you were not familiar with “Prairie Doom Metal” before listening to Iris, now you have a very good reason to get to know more about such distinct sub-genre of extreme music. But if Altars of Grief are already a recurrent part of your playlist, the emotional story told in Iris will simply make you even more addicted to their desolate and imposing sounds.

Best moments of the album: Isolation, Iris and Broken Hymns.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Isolation 9:19
2. Desolation 6:15
3. Iris 6:20
4. Child of Light 7:02
5. Broken Hymns 8:11
6. Voices of Winter 7:26
7. Becoming Intangible 9:17
8. Epilogue 2:05

Band members
Damian Smith – vocals
Erik Labossiere – guitars, vocals
Evan Paulson – guitars, vocals, programming
Donny Pinay – bass, vocals
Zack Bellina – drums, vocals on “Broken Hymns”

Guest musician
Raphael Weinroth-Browne – cello on “Isolation”, “Child of Light”, “Broken Hymns”, “Voices of Winter” and “Becoming Intangible”, all instruments on “Epilogue”

Album Review – The Black Swamp / Witches EP (2018)

Australia’s own five-headed creature from the swamp is back with a short and slimy album of Sludge and Southern Metal that celebrates the riff-driven sound they’ve become known for.

For the love of the riff, Australian Southern/Groove Metal group The Black Swamp was formed as a live act in 2012 in the Gold Coast, in South East Queensland, soon evolving to a full-bodied band and releasing their debut EP Foulness in 2014, followed by the full-length I Am, in 2016, not to mention a handful of unofficial releases on their way to support slots with Hellyeah, Black Label Society and Sebastian Bach, as well as their own national tours. Always playing a sludge sound reminiscent of the 70’s and 90’s, “the swamp” is back in 2018 with a short and slimy EP titled Witches, a celebration of the riff-driven sound they’ve become known for, also marking their first release with new frontman Luke Hosking (from Australian Groove/Thrash Metal band Azreal). Hence, the quintet comprised of Luke on vocals, Grant Scott and Jesse Kenny on the guitars, Rohan Downs on bass and Brendan Woodley on drums again focuses their energy and creativity on raw sounds, highly inspired by Heavy Metal pioneers Black Sabbath and Doom/Sludge Metal masters Crowbar.

And “the swamp” needs only a few seconds to blow our ears with their ruthless and heavy-as-hell Stoner Metal in the opening track Headless, with Luke delivering sheer rage through his Phil Anselmo-inspired deep, crude vocals, while Grant and Jesse are simply bestial with their crushing riffs. If that’s not heavy enough for you, just keep banging your head nonstop to another soulful and aggressive Sludge Metal creation by The Black Swamp, named Event Horizon, where the bass lines by Rohan feel like if he was rubbing metal to metal so piercing and thunderous they sound. Put differently, this is a drinking-smoking-slamming-headbanging tune, bringing a classic rhtythm tailored for lovers of the genre. Then we have 1487 C.E., a short and serene bridge that sets the stage for to the demolishing title-track Witches, showcasing the heaviest and most whimsical elements found in Sludge, Stoner and Doom Metal, with Brendan pounding his drums mercilessly while Luke continues his musical rant à la Pantera, not to mention the always crisp and furious riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

In a nutshell, it’s quite impressive the amount of heaviness and rage found in each one of the four tracks of the EP in a littles less than 17 minutes, proving The Black Swamp are not joking around when displaying their admiration and passion for Sludge and Doom Metal. If you want to show your support for this resonant quintet, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and buy your copy of Witches (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) directly from The Black Swamp’s BandCamp page, as well as from iTunes or from CD Baby. After this brief “attack” by Australia’s own five-headed creature from the swamp, I’m sure you’ll get curious to know what comes next in their career, getting more and more addicted to their sluggish, vile and totally awesome music.

Best moments of the album: Headless and Witches.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Headless 4:32
2. Event Horizon 6:46
3. 1487 C.E. 1:00
4. Witches 4:13

Band members
Luke Hosking – vocals
Grant Scott – guitar
Jesse Kenny – guitar
Rohan Downs – bass
Brendan Woodley – drums

Album Review – Sata Kaskelottia / Sydän On Vuori (2018)

The most unconventional gam of sperm whales hailing from Finland strikes back with more of their flammable fusion of Stoner and Progressive Metal.

After three long years of writing and recording, the most unconventional gam of sperm whales hailing from the Finnish capital Helsinki is back with a brand new album, ready to show us all that the human heart is a mountain. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, then you should definitely take a listen at Sydän On Vuori (Finnish for “heart is a mountain”), the brand new album by Stoner/Progressive Metal act Sata Kaskelottia, following the success of the band’s 2015 debut self-titled release while experimenting with new sounds and nuances and exploring the breaking points of life, points in which difficult choices have to be made.

Sata Kaskelottia’s combination of progressive, darker tones and often catchy, lighter and strangely triumphant mood produces a unique musical blend that walks its own path, with Sydän On Vuori introducing the band’s evolved sound and songwriting. Comprised of Eetu Kauppinen on vocals and guitar, Matti Kangaskoski on the guitar, Markku Suoniemi on bass, and Ville Salonen on drums and percussion, Sata Kaskelottia, which means “one hundred sperm whales” (if you don’t know that already), are beyond sharp and electrified in Sydän On Vuori, and if you’re a fan of the music by bands such as Mastodon and Baroness I’m sure you’ll have a good time listening to the nine tracks of unrelenting rock and metal found throughout the album.

We need only a few seconds in the opening track Aamumandaatti (“the morning mandate” from Finnish) to know we’re dealing with the “Finnish Mastodon”, with the guitars by Eetu and Matti sounding as sharp as a sword, not to mention you’ll certainly feel compelled to sing along with the band even knowing nothing in Finnish. Just as psychedelic and heavy as its predecessor, Leskentekijä (“widow’s origins”) is a well-balance hybrid between Stoner and Progressive Metal, with Ville bringing an extra dosage of electricity with his intricate beats while Eetu keeps firing his wicked vocals nonstop; followed by Parantaja (“the healer”), where the whole band speeds things up a bit sounding more aggressive, rawer and denser, with the music being led by the crushing riffs by both Eetu and Matti. In addition, the bass guitar by Markku sounds thunderous and metallic, adding an extra dosage of heaviness to what’s by far one of my favorite songs of the album.

Samarkand might be known as a city in modern-day Uzbekistan and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia, but from now on it should also be recognized as a lesson in Progressive and Sludge Metal, with its guitar lines and rhythmic beats inspiring you to bang your head together with the band, whereas the title-track Sydän On Vuori begins in an atmospheric, almost psychedelic way, evolving into a dark and deep Stoner Metal feast with Markku and Ville smashing their respective instruments, therefore creating a beyond obscure background of sounds. And in Ennen Kuin Sateet Alkavat (“before the rain begins”), Sata Kaskelottia deliver sheer electricity through their music weapons in a top-of-the-line fusion of Stoner Metal with old school Rock N’ Roll and modern Hard Rock, with highlights to the fantastic job done by Eetu with his demented vocal lines.

Bringing elements from traditional Heavy Metal to their musicality (which ends up giving it an epic vibe), the band offers the listener the vibrant Musta Tähti (“black star”), once again showcasing Eetu and Makki in absolute sync with their riffs; while Lumimies (“abominable snowman”) lacks the same punch and energy from the rest of the album, despite presenting melodious guitar lines and a solid performance by Markku on drums. And lastly, instead of another hard and heavy tune, Sata Kaskelottia surprise us all with a pensive ballad titled Ovet (“doors”), closing the album in a unique and very interesting manner, with Eetu leading the sonority with his introspective vocals until the song’s somber finale.

What are you waiting for to dive into the sea of Progressive and Stoner Metal ruled by Sata Kaskelottia? You can listen to their new album in full on Spotify, follow them on Facebook for new and tour dates, listen to more of their music on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and buy a copy of Sydän On Vuori from their BandCamp page, from Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon. As you might already know, there’s nothing better than listening to the potent nad harmonious metal music blasted by one hundred sperm whales, and the new album by Sata Kaskelottia is here to show us that.

Best moments of the album: Aamumandaatti, Parantaja and Ennen Kuin Sateet Alkavat.

Worst moments of the album: Lumimies.

Released in 2018 Rhoska Records

Track listing
1. Aamumandaatti 5:03
2. Leskentekijä 4:54
3. Parantaja 3:30
4. Samarkand 5:19
5. Sydän On Vuori 5:16
6. Ennen Kuin Sateet Alkavat 4:01
7. Musta Tähti 5:39
8. Lumimies 5:14
9. Ovet 4:56

Band members
Eetu Kauppinen – vocals, guitar
Matti Kangaskoski – guitar, vocals
Markku Suoniemi – bass, vocals
Ville Salonen – drums, percussion

Album Review – Vile Creature / Cast of Static and Smoke (2018)

A dystopian science fiction taking place well after civilization has been destroyed by its own nuclear ambitions in the form of 44 minutes of suffering and austere Doom Metal.

Formed in 2014 in Saint Catharines, the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in the province of Ontario, Sludge/Doom Metal duo Vile Creature is more than ready to release their brand new full-length album titled Cast of Static and Smoke, a logical progression from their previous releases both in sound and content. While in their 2015 debut album A Steady Descent into the Soil they mirrored Blackened Doom with equally melancholy stories of growing up queer, and in their 2016 EP A Pessimistic Doomsayer they explored escaping your demons by forging relationships with works of fiction, now with Cast of Static and Smoke the band have delved into building a world of their own while writing a compelling 44 minutes of  what they like to call “suffering metal”.

In order to properly translate all that melancholy and suffering into metal music, the duo comprised of Vic on vocals and drums and KW on vocals, guitar and percussion recorded the core of the album live with only one guitar and one drum kit. Furthermore, Cast of Static and Smoke is a record and a short story at the same time, a dystopian science fiction taking place well after civilization has been destroyed by its own nuclear ambitions. Displaying an eerie artwork by artist Stephen Wilson (Unknown Relic) and featuring a few interesting guest musicians who end up bringing extra layers of complexity to the music, the album presents four songs that embody emotions felt by characters and moments that take place within the story, sounding less chronological and more a response to certain instances. Musically the band is as heavy as they have ever been, weaving through different paces and influences with ease while maintaining their foundation in Doom Metal.

Wicked, somber sounds kick off the 10-minute Doom metal aria Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper, with guest Erin Severson talking about all that’s wrong in our society before the sluggish beats and distorted guitars by Vic and KW invade our ears, paving the path for the song’s austere lyrics (“Blinded by visions of the elements of life / Leading to a scorched earth / A crows nest shrouded in metal and rust / Even scraps fear nothingness / I’ve seen blackened, deserted shores / Calling me, whispering lore”). Furthermore, guest vocalist Chris Colohan effectively provides his share of anguished growling, taking the song’s acidity to a whole new level before everything ends in the most visceral way possible. Then we have the absolutely grim Circuits, Bending & Breaking, an excellent hybrid of Doom Metal, Blackened Doom, Drone and Ambient with a violent twist where Vic keeps blasting Stygian, slow-paced beast while KW gnarls desperately and rabidly amidst a high level of distortions and rough noises perfect for disturbing our thoughts.

Forest, Subsists as a Tomb starts as dark and downbeat as the two initial compositions of the album, becoming another feast of devilish sounds and tones led by the lingering drums by Vic, with KW firing some enraged growls and slashing guitar noises. Once again, Erin’s narration feels as creepy as the previous one, with another guest musician, James Claypool, bringing forward a good amount of wickedness to the overall musicality with his flammable guitar. And lastly we have Sky, in Descending Pieces, a song that doesn’t bring any joy or happiness to our hearts and souls; quite the contrary, it follows the same somber path crafted by Vile Creature throughout the entire album, resulting in a solid display of modern-day Doom and Sludge Metal with the duo’s deranged screams and perturbing riffs and beats setting the stage for the final unsettling message by Erin.

In summary, although Cast of Static and Smoke is definitely not an easy listen for newcomers to the world of depressive and suffering Doom Metal by Vile Creature, it’s indeed an album that will grow on you as the music and the story progress together, gradually making your ears and senses more familiar with the band’s eccentric type of music. The album can be purchased through the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as through the Halo of Flies’ BandCamp page or webstore and the Dry Cough Records’ webstore. Furthemrore, if you buy Cast of Static and Smoke you’re not just buying over 40 minutes of high-quality extreme music, but the physical copy is also accompanied by a 16-page booklet that includes lyrics, credits, the full story itself (which you can read HERE), and an audio recording of the entire story scored by Vile Creature for those who have a hard time reading small print or just want another way to experience it. Having said that, don’t waste your time and go show your support to Vile Creature by visiting their Facebook page and buying their new album, and consequently immersing yourself in the bitter and melancholic post-apocalyptic reality proposed by this persevering Canadian duo.

Best moments of the album: Circuits, Bending & Breaking.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Halo of Flies

Track listing  
1. Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper 10:20
2. Circuits, Bending & Breaking 9:16
3. Forest, Subsists as a Tomb 13:36
4. Sky, in Descending Pieces 8:52

Band member
Vic – drums, vocals
KW – guitar, vocals, percussion

Guest musicians
Chris Colohan – vocals on “Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper”
James Claypool – guitar on “Forest, Subsists as a Tomb”
Erin Severson – the narrator on “Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper”, “Forest, Subsists as a Tomb” and “Sky, in Descending Pieces”
George Zhen – piano

Album Review – Not My Master / Disobey EP (2018)

An aggressive mix of Thrash, Groove and Extreme Metal with Southern Rock blasted by a new four-piece act hailing from the always metallic U.S. state of Texas.

It’s time for The Headbanging Moose to head to Texas, the second-largest state in the United States by both area and population where several amazing heavy bands were born such as D.R.I., Devourment, Pissing Razors, Galactic Cowboys and, above all, the mighty Pantera, to slam into the pit to the aggressive mix of Thrash, Groove and Extreme Metal with Southern Rock blasted by a four-piece act that goes by the name of Not My Master. Playing what the band members themselves call Texas Metal, or in their own words, “dirty nasty satanic devil music you would find on Pornhub, if Pornhub played dirty nasty satanic devil music”, Not My Master are releasing their straightforward, vicious and extremely aggressive debut EP, titled Disobey.

Formed in 2016 in the city of El Paso, situated in the far western corner of Texas, the band comprised of Chris Kidwell on vocals, Chelo Styles on the guitar, Rudy Barajas on bass and Charlie Gonzalez on drums has been spreading their “Texas Fuckin’ Metal” throughout the whole state for a while, having already shared the stage with bands like Soulfly, Death Angel, Puddle Of Mudd and Rotting Christ, and also played in festivals such as Zia Music Fest, KILL This Festival, MUDD Fest and HaloHeavy Fest. With Disobey, the band not only aims at solidifying their name in the local Texan scene, but also to spread their ruthless music all over the world, effectively summarizing in its seven distinct tracks what the band is capable of offering to fans of heavy music.

The marching beats by Charlie are gradually joined by the slashing riffs by Chelo and the menacing bass punches by Rudy in the opening track, entitled Acadence, before Chris begins firing some enraged growls in a solid display of Extreme Groove Metal, perfect for fans of bands like Lamb Of God. Then the band keeps pounding our heads with their visceral music in Revenge, with lots of groove flowing from both guitar and bass while Chris switches back and forth from deep, rabid growls to clean, dark vocals, reminding me of the most obscure songs by Pantera (which obviously translates into sheer awesomeness); followed by the acid Where’s God Now, with the guitar lines by Chelo inspiring you to break your neck headbanging, not to mention how the metallic sounds blasted by all instruments increase the impact of Chris’ screams.

Then we have an eerie start to what’s the darkest composition in the EP, titled Morning Star, suddenly exploding into a heavy and aggressive hybrid of Groove and Southern Metal with hints of modern Doom Metal, led by Chris and his demented gnarls, whereas in Lies the raw and dirty guitar lines by Chelo build a demonic atmosphere for the rest of the band to blast hatred and evil in a fantastic display of Sludge Metal. Moreover, the low-tuned bass punches by Rudy sound insanely heavy, bringing even more ferocity to the overall result. And as a “bonus” don’t forget to listen to the two creepy alternative versions of this song on YouTube by clicking HERE and HERE.

Not My Master then treat us with an excellent cover version for How the Gods Kill, by Danzig (check the original version HERE), and on a side note, this classic was also covered by Polish Death/Black Metal project +MROME+ in their 2016 album Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell (as you can see HERE). With that said, which version do you prefer? In my humble opinion, both kick some serious ass, with Not My Master sounding more melancholic in its first half before becoming a beautiful storm of Southern Metal throughout the rest of the song. And lastly, closing this obscure and very enjoyable EP we have another wicked tune named Consume, a vicious sample of what they call Texas Metal with Chelo burning our skin with his scorching hot riffs while Chris and Rudy sound like an earthquake with their growls and bass lines, respectively.

Are you curious to know more about Not My Master? I surely am, and I can’t wait to see when those Texan metallers will release their first full-length album, kicking everyone in the head with their relentless fusion of Southern and Groove Metal. You can follow Not My Master on Facebook and get to know more about the band members, their tour dates and other details, as well as listen to their music and watch their videos on ReverbNation. High-quality heavy music made in El Paso, Texas is furiously knocking at your door, but be careful because once you open it, there’s no escape from Not My Master’s vicious attack.

Best moments of the album: Revenge and Lies.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing  
1. Acadence 4:18
2. Revenge 3:08
3. Where’s God Now 3:49
4. Morning Star 5:15
5. Lies 4:38
6. How the Gods Kill (Danzig cover) 5:55
7. Consume 4:41

Band members
Chris Kidwell – vocals
Chelo Styles – guitar
Rudy Barajas – bass
Charlie Gonzalez – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017

“We sort of find that music tames the beast, you know.” – Malcom Young

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season. In a year where we lost so many talented and important musicians in rock and heavy music for various reasons, including Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Trish Doan (Kittie), Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost), Warrel Dane (Nevermore, Sanctuary), John Wetton (Uriah Heep), David Zablidowsky (Adrenaline Mob, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) and Cherry Taketani (Okotô, Hellsakura, NervoChaos), among several others, not to mention the end of the unmatched Black Sabbath, who we were able to witness live one last time during their farewell tour The End, only the freshness and energy flowing from brand new metal music can give us hope, not allowing Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll to die as many like to prophesy every single year.

Having said that, it’s time to blow our goddamn speakers with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, taming the beast inside us all as wisely said by AC/DC’s heart and soul Malcolm Young (R.I.P.). And as 2017 was the year of bands that cannot be considered dinosaurs in metal (or at least not yet), such as Trivium and Mastodon, that certainly points to a bright future ahead for Heavy Metal with their recent releases because, as you know, we won’t have behemoths like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica kicking ass on stage forever. By the way, this was definitely a fantastic year for Mastodon, who not only released one of the best albums of 2017, the excellent Emperor of Sand, but they also had some extra energy to burn with the classy EP Cold Dark Place, which by the way is part of our top 10 EP’s of the year (as you’ll see after our top 10/20 list). Alright, without further ado, turn up the volume and enjoy our 2017 list… LET THERE BE ROCK!

1. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence (REVIEW)
A superb album full of fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams.
Best song of the album: Betrayer

2. Kreator – Gods Of Violence (REVIEW)
We shall praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.
Best song of the album: Totalitarian Terror

3. Blaze Bayley – Endure And Survive (REVIEW)
The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date.
Best song of the album: Blood

4. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (REVIEW)
Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in this excellent album of Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Word to the Wise

5. Accept – The Rise of Chaos (REVIEW)
Let total chaos and destruction rise to the sound of the brand new album by the unstoppable Teutonic masters of Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Analog Man

6. Moonspell – 1755 (REVIEW)
An orchestral and emotional concept album that will take you to the year when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.
Best song of the album: Todos Os Santos

7. Striker – Striker (REVIEW)
Canadian Heavy Metal has never been more vibrant and rapturous than this.
Best song of the album: Born To Lose

8. Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu (REVIEW)
Witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war and human society.
Best song of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu

9. Torture Squad – Far Beyond Existence (REVIEW)
Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene.
Best song of the album: Blood Sacrifice

10. Solitary – The Diseased Heart of Society (REVIEW)
Four veteran thrash metallers canalizing all the hatred, degradation and perversions of our modern-day society into their music.
Best song of the album: Architects of Shame

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Karkaos – Children Of The Void (REVIEW)
12. Prometheus – Consumed In Flames (REVIEW)
13. Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (REVIEW)
14. Terrifier – Weapons of Thrash Destruction (REVIEW)
15. Body Count – Bloodlust (REVIEW)
16. Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales (REVIEW)
17. Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (REVIEW)
18. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (REVIEW)
19. Infernäl Mäjesty – No God (REVIEW)
20. Katharos XIII – Negativity (REVIEW)

As aforementioned, we also have for you this year our Top 10 EP’s of 2017, ranging from the most rebellious form of Deathcore to the most melodic type of Symphonic Metal, from visceral Doom Metal to demonic Black Metal, and so on. In addition, those bands hail from all four corner of the earth, proving once again that it doesn’t matter where you go you’ll always be able to find first-class metal music, including all of its genres and subgenres, to please your avid metallic ears.

1. Primal Age – A Silent Wound (REVIEW)
2. Sinners Moon – Far Beyond The Stars (REVIEW)
3. Aversio Humanitatis – Longing for the Untold (REVIEW)
4. Loathfinder – The Great Tired Ones (REVIEW)
5. Ljosazabojstwa – Sychodžańnie (REVIEW)
6. Lorn – Arrayed Claws (REVIEW)
7. Jupiter Hollow – Odyssey (REVIEW)
8. Dö – Astral: Death/Birth (REVIEW)
9. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (REVIEW)
10. Afire – Afire (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2017? If you want to check another awesome list, I highly recommend Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Editorial Staff), a great online publication that we at The Headbanging Moose also contribute to on a regular basis. Also, don’t forget to tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a blazing fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal from all over the world!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2018!

Actually, before all is said and done, here’s for you the 2017 Christmas single from Norwegian Melodic Power Metal project Aldaria called When The Time Has Come, featuring several renowned guest musicians such as Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black),  Lars Rettkowitz (Freedom Call) and Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze), among others, with 100% of all income of this single being donated to Cancer Research. “This is a very important cause for me, as I lost my mother to this horrible disease in 2010. The single will be available across all streaming and digital platforms, and on Aldaria’s official webstore, where you will get a special edition with a lossless audio file, instrumental, high resolution cover art, and lyrics”, commented guitarist Frode Hovd, the mastermind behind Aldaria. Let’s all support such important cause!

Album Review – Mastodon / Cold Dark Place EP (2017)

Fill your ears with more of the dark, classy and crisp music by one of the biggest names of contemporary metal as their anticipated Christmas gift for you.

Three songs recorded during the sessions for their 2014 album Once More ‘Round the Sun, and another song recorded during the Emperor of Sand sessions in 2017. That was the anticipated Christmas gift American Progressive/Sludge Metal act Mastodon gave us all metalheads by the end of September, when they released a gloomy (and somehow charming) EP titled Cold Dark Place. Displaying an obscure and totally fantastic artwork by British illustrator Richey Beckett, the EP comprised of the songs “North Side Star”, “Blue Walsh” and “Cold Dark Place” (from the Once More ‘Round the Sun sessions) and “Toe to Toes” (from the Emperor of Sand sessions) presents to the listener a more melancholic and introspective side of Mastodon, but still bringing all the dexterity and characteristic punch delivered by the talented Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor.

In one of his interviews about the EP, Bill commented that “When we recorded ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’, three of the four songs were songs that Brent had mostly written. We all kind of arrange everything together as a band, but they were very heavily Brent songs; he wrote the music for ’em and Brann wrote the lyrics, and the rest of us played on it. And I think with ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’, we had, like, 15, 16 songs, and we’re, like… Anything over an hour or… 52 minutes is, like, our cutoff time with records; we don’t wanna make records any longer than that. So what we thought was these songs, they kind of sound like they belong together; they don’t exactly sound like they’d go on ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’. ‘Why don’t we take those and put them out as an EP later on down the road?’ We didn’t feel like they were completely finished or mixed or whatever. We wanted to kind of… We didn’t wanna rush it. So, ‘Let’s just wait. And we’ll put those out at a later time.’ The song ‘Toe To Toes’ was from the ‘Emperor Of Sand’ sessions. And I’m glad we didn’t put it on that record, ’cause that record’s great — it’s great the way it is. I mean, it could have maybe been better with that song on it, but it’s cool to take that song and add it to the ‘Cold Dark Place’ EP.”

Peace and melancholy permeate the air in the first track of the EP, North Side Star, with beautiful guitar lines by both Bill and Brent leading the musicality, while Brann is precise with his smooth but impactful drumming. Moreover, its vocal lines also display a whimsical sense of sadness, with the music growing in intensity and speed halfway through it, showcasing amazing guitar solos and an electrifying vibe. Then we have Blue Walsh, a song that follows a similar dark pattern as the opening track, also bringing their trademark progressiveness and the multi-layered vocal wall built by all band members. In other words, this is an interesting and gentle journey through the realms of Progressive Metal where Mastodon once again captivate us all with their amazing lyrics (“As we hang from the vine, / we swam on the thin red line. / I’m asleep in the deep, / asleep in the dark black sea. / I call out your name, / all I hear is the pouring rain. / When you came into view, / I realize it’s not you.”).

The insanely good Toe to Toes has such a great feel and pace, with the claps added to the song turning it into something very special for us fans of modern heavy music, you’ll catch yourself clapping your hands together with the band without a shadow of a doubt, not to mention how fantastic what they all do with their vocal pieces is, in special Troy who has a beyond passionate vocal performance complemented by his own powerful bass lines and the song’s upbeat vibe. It’s by far my favorite of the EP, and I’m sure it will become a fan-favorite during their live concerts (if they play anything from the EP in their setlist, of course). And in the closing tune, the title-track Cold Dark Place, a semi-acoustic, introspective composition that presents a darker-than-ever Mastodon, you can feel sorrow and darkness flowing from its cryptic lyrics (“You left my heart, / in some cold dark place, / where your love grows on a vine, / and I see it all the time.”). This song might sound very light compared to their usual sound, but it exhales heaviness and depth, ending with a superb guitar solo as the icing on the cake.

In summary, 2017 was definitely the year of Mastodon. After the superb Emperor of Sand, they still had an ace in the hole with Cold Dark Place, making all their fans even happier than before because, as you know, when you like a band a lot there’s never enough of that band for your ears, right? Now just go complete your collection of Mastodon albums by purchasing Cold Dark Place through your favorite music service, stay tuned for their live concerts as they might pay a visit to your city real soon, and keep enjoying the stylish and crisp music by one of the biggest names of contemporary metal.

Best moments of the album: Toe to Toes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Reprise Records

Track listing
1. North Side Star 6:09
2. Blue Walsh 5:11
3. Toe to Toes 4:28
4. Cold Dark Place 5:58

Band members
Brent Hinds – lead guitar, lead and backing vocals, claps
Bill Kelliher – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, claps
Troy Sanders – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, claps
Brann Dailor – drums, percussion, claps