Album Review – Guardian Of Lightning / Cosmos Tree (2020)

Behold the mighty sound of the ultra-heavy electric bass by a Brazilian power trio who praises the gods of thunder and metal in their excellent debut opus.

Known as the the herald of a new wave of metal music, curiously labeled as “Thunder Metal”, Guardian Of Lightning are a three-piece band based in São Paulo, Brazil featuring lead bassist Iron King, his father Marco Fino on vocals and rhythm guitar, and Lord Drum on drums, with their unique sound being a fresh take on the metal genre, replacing the typical lead guitar role with that of an ultra-heavy thundering electric bass. Lead bassist Iron King (yes, that is his real name) grew up surrounded by music, inspiring him to follow in the footsteps of bass legends such as Cliff Burton, Joey DeMaio and Lemmy Kilmister and, therefore, leading him to form Guardian Of Lightning back in 2017. Produced by Eurico Tavares at Stage Record Power Audio Studio, the band’s debut opus Cosmos Tree makes it clear from the very first second that the electric bass is front and center throughout the entire album, but each individual song will also bring to you a wide variety of sounds, an undeniable sync and dynamism between the band members, and of course, the magic of our beloved Heavy Metal.

The album’s atmospheric Intro will certainly invite you to the heavy world of Guardian Of Lightning, setting the tone for the epic title-track Cosmos Tree, which reminds me of the mighty sound blasted by Grand Magus infused with the rockin’ elements from the music by Motörhead, with Lord Drum dictating the rhythm with his pounding beats while Iron King shreds his bass in great fashion.  In the superb Raise Your Sword, the Mark Tornillo-like vocals by Marco walk hand in hand with the thrilling Power Metal beats and bass punches fired by Lord Drum and Iron King, respectively, also bringing hints of 70’s Progressive Rock and Metal through their intricate and thunderous bass sounds, followed by the also epic Sound of Thunder, exactly what Iron King delivers from his rumbling bass, showcasing an accelerated pace and classic riffs and lyrics, therefore resulting in an ode to all things rock and metal tailored for fans of the music by Manowar and other bands that love to add endless epicness to their creations. And once again inviting us all to bang our heads in the name of metal, the trio masterfully smashes their instruments in Aligned With the Stars, where the riffage by Marco provides an amazing support to Iron King’s metallic bass.

Then adding elements from Blues to their core sonority, the trio brings forward the beautiful Follow Your Silver Shine, where Iron King is once again majestic with his visceral and electrifying bass jabs and solos, while his father Marco showcases a fun and vibrant vocal performance from start to finish, whereas Inside of Us presents another solid fusion of Stoner, Sludge and Southern Metal with more epic styles such as classic Heavy and Power Metal, not to mention that what Iron King does with his bass is truly impressive, making our heads tremble with awe. Lord Drum begins hitting his drums harder than usual in the also rockin’ Another Place, where it’s a pleasure to witness the sonic synchronicity of father and son crushing their strings with power and dexterity, and they keep jamming with passion until the very end. Lastly, slowing things down a bit the band offers the more serene and classic Be Like the Moon, where Iron King once again showcases all his skills armed with his bass, and albeit this song is not as creative or inspiring as its predecessors, it still provides the listener a very good reason for having a cold beer and headbanging nonstop.

After taking a few detailed listens at Cosmos Tree, you’ll see it’s easy to understand what Guardian Of Lightning mean with the expression “Thunder Metal”, because that’s exactly what you’ll get throughout the album’s over 30 minutes of music, pure and mighty thunder in the form of our good old Heavy Metal, consequently paving an interesting path ahead of Iron King and his loyal henchmen for the coming years. Hence, don’t forget to follow such promising band on Facebook and on Instagram, to listen to more of their music on Spotify, and above all, to purchase your desired version of Cosmos Tree by clicking HERE, proving to the gods of thunder and metal you deserve a place right by their side in Valhalla.

Best moments of the album: Raise Your Sword, Sound of Thunder and Follow Your Silver Shine.

Worst moments of the album: Be Like the Moon.

Released in 2020 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:09
2. Cosmos Tree 5:00
3. Raise Your Sword 3:41
4. Sound of Thunder 4:17
5. Aligned With the Stars 3:29
6. Follow Your Silver Shine 3:58
7. Inside of Us 3:15
8. Another Place 4:55
9. Be Like the Moon 3:29

Band members
Marco Fino – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Iron King – lead bass guitar
Lord Drum – drums

Album Review – Descend into Despair / Opium (2020)

It’s time to get lost in the musical and lyrical universe developed around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz” by this distinguished Romanian Funeral Doom act.

Founded in 2010 in Rădăuți, Suceava County, in Romania, but currently located in Cluj-Napoca, Cluj County, also in Romania, an idiosyncratic Doom Metal/Funeral Doom entity known as Descend into Despair has been gradually rising from that point into one of the most noteworthy bands in the local scene, fusing together Death, Black and Sludge Metal with Electronica and Dark Ambient elements to further refine what they like to call “Introspective Doom Metal”, pushing creative boundaries and taking pride in experimenting as much as they can. The band currently comprised of Xander Coza on vocals, analogue synthesizer and guitars, Florentin Popa on clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars and field recordings, Dragoș C. and Cosmin Farcău on the guitars, Alex Costin on bass, Flaviu Roșca on keyboards and piano, and Luca Breaz on drums developed a musical and lyrical universe around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz”, a brooding and ever-looming feeling that physical reality can never fully satisfy the demands of the mind. Now in 2020 the band returns with their third full-length opus, simply titled Opium, offering fans of Funeral Doom almost one hour of cryptic and melancholic passages split into three unique compositions, all embraced by a stunning cover artwork conceptualized by Xander himself, featuring model Melinda Nagy, painting by István Bába and bodypaint by Brigitta Adorjan. “Opium’s conceptual driving force is, we believe, fully grasped within this image, blurring the lines between painting and photography. Twisting classical beauty into modern obsession, weaving harmony of proportion into the disharmony of meaning that soaks through the fabric of existence, our Venus rises forth from horror and remembrance, drained by her rebirth, as murky as the sea that bore her,” commented the band about the connection between the concept of the art and the musical content of their newborn opus.

Featuring guest female vocals by Tara Vanflower, an atmospheric and peaceful start slowly and gradually evolves into a lugubrious feast of doom in ensh[r]ine, with the band’s guitarists Dragos and Cosmin meticulously smashing their stringed axes while Luca brings the thunder with his potent beats. Furthermore, Xander sounds like a beast from the pits of hell with his deep guttural gnarls, with the crisp and crystalline background keys and synths by Flaviu adding a touch of finesse to their mournful musicality. In other words, it’s truly impressive how they fill every single space in the air with tons of heaviness but sounding melodic and ethereal at the same time, ending such massive composition in a beyond enfolding way. Then sinister, atmospheric sounds and tones permeate the air in the also extensive, multi-layered and utterly doomed antumbra, where Xander’s gruesome roars get even more introspective and grim accompanied by the sluggish and melancholic beats by Luca, while the raw sounds of the guitars generate a beautiful paradox with all background keys and synths, also presenting several breaks and variations throughout its 17 lugubrious minutes, and once again bringing an orchestral, cinematic vibe until the very end. Lastly, an array of guests doing choir vocals and spoken pieces are one of the main ingredients in the pensive and obscure closing tune dis[re]member, where the delicate piano notes by Flaviu and the slow and steady beats by Luca walk hand in hand in a hypnotizing Doom Metal voyage. It’s by far the most intricate and the darkest of all three songs, with Dragos, Cosmin and Alex bringing an otherworldly vibe to the music with their sonic weapons, not to mention the breathtaking final act showcasing grim spoken words, crisp guitars and infernal roars amidst a perturbing sense of hopelessness.

In summary, if you can’t live without your daily dosage of Funeral Doom, then this excellent album made in Romania is exactly what you need to fulfill your darkest needs. Hence, don’t forget to show your true support to the guys from Descend into Despair by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and above all that, by purchasing Opium (which is also available in full on YouTube and on Spotify) from Funere’s Bandcamp page, or go to DistroKid for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mixed by Indee Rehal Sagoo in London, UK, and mastered by Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios in Birmingham, UK, Opium will certainly please all admirers of the most introspective and funereal side of Doom Metal, leaving a scathing mark in the hearts of those who dare to venture through the album’s 59 minutes of sheer obscurity, solitude and sorrow.

Best moments of the album: dis[re]member.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Funere

Track listing
1. ensh[r]ine 22:27
2. antumbra 17:08
3. dis[re]member 19:54

Band members
Xander Coza – vocals, analogue synthesizer, guitars
Florentin Popa – clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars, field recordings
Dragoș C. – guitars
Cosmin Farcău – guitars
Alex Costin – bass
Flaviu Roșca – keyboards, piano
Luca Breaz – drums, choir vocals on “dis[re]member”

Guest musicians
Tara Vanflower  – female vocals on “ensh[r]ine”
Irina Movileanu & Eva Breaz – choir vocals on “dis[re]member”
Bogdan Neciu & Răzvan Târnovan – spoken words on “dis[re]member”

Album Review – Halcyon Reign / The Voyage (2019)

Dealing with the metaphoric beasts we all hide from, the debut album by this Australian trio will take you on a theatrical journey through the realms of prog.

Formed in 2016 in the city of Sydney, Australia, a Progressive Metal three-piece act that goes by the name of Halcyon Reign has just released their debut opus entitled The Voyage, offering the listener a prog feast recommended for fans of iconic bands such as Mastodon, Twelve Foot Ninja and Karnivool. Recorded and mixed by Adam Jordan at Main Street Studios, mastered by Don Bartley  at Benchmark Mastering, and featuring an interesting album art by Edi Udo at Edi Udo Illustrations, which seems to be a tribute to Mastodon’s Leviathan and Gojira’s From Mars to Sirius (and I’m pretty sure those are two of the band’s main influences), The Voyage deals with the metaphoric beasts we all hide from, with those theatrical beastly metaphors being embraced by an atmospheric, intricate and groovy sound blasted by lead singer and guitarist Lachlan Arvidson, bassist Luke Delbridge and drummer Simon Bowles, resulting in a fresh, full-bodied experience for any type of metalhead in search for a good balance between heaviness and creativity.

Emerging from the underworld of prog, the band comes ripping in the opening track ‘Welcome Reality’, a multi-layered musical journey through the realms of Progressive Metal where Lachlan’s classic metal vocals match the music perfectly, not to mention the great job done by Luke with his thunderous bass lines, feeling like a hybrid of Mastodon and Tool. Then a serene intro evolves into an even more progressive and intricate creation by the trio titled The Kraken, with Simon bringing a blend of Progressive, Doom and Heavy Metal with his beats while Lachlan fires his slashing riffs and potent vocals nonstop. Moreover, this great tune is full of breaks and variations, with its mesmerizing instrumental ending being tailored for admirers of the genre. And Peleliu is another classy composition by Halcyon Reign, showcasing the duo Lachlan and Luke in absolute sync with their stringed weapons, supported by Simon’s spot-on beats. Alternating between heavier and more complex moments and gentle, melancholic passages, the final result gets close to that sonic extravaganza the one and only Dream Theather enjoy doing all the time.

If you think The Voyage has been beyond amazing so far, get ready for almost ten minutes of dense, top-of-the-line metal music in Beyond The Cape, where Lachlan sounds at the same time delicate and infuriated on vocals. Furthermore, Luke and Simon make the earth tremble with their respective beats and bass punches, and they keep pounding their weapons with tons of precision and feeling until the song’s epic and enthralling finale. After such lecture in Progressive Metal, an atmospheric, futuristic bridge named Last Horizon sets the stage for the trio to shine once again in the title-track The Voyage, bringing to our ears and minds more of their beautifully crafted music, uniting progressiveness and heaviness in great fashion. Not only the sound of guitars and bass will pierce your ears mercilessly, but the music also brings hints of Sludge Metal to the band’s core essence, and that healthy amalgamation of styles makes the song feel like two or three songs in one, with the three band member jamming freely and stunningly until all fades into a space void.

The past decade has been more than just great for heavy music from Down Under, with countless excellent groups like Halcyon Reign showing the world everything they got, and if you want to show your support to this up-and-coming Australian triumvirate of Progressive Metal you can purchase The Voyage from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music, from Amazon or from CD Baby, as well as listen to the album in full on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook, therefore joining Lachlan, Luke and Simon on their theatrical trek through space and progressive lands and, of course, inspiring them to keep delivering first-class metal music for all of us lovers of the underground scene.

Best moments of the album: The Kraken and Beyond The Cape.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. ‘Welcome Reality’ 6:14
2. The Kraken 8:18
3. Peleliu 5:09
4. Beyond The Cape 9:15
5. Last Horizon 1:27
6. The Voyage 7:28

Band members
Lachlan Arvidson – vocals, guitars
Luke Delbridge – bass
Simon Bowles – drums, vocals

Album Review – Dö / Astral Death Cult (2019)

Saluting the great forces of nature and the void that surrounds us, Finland’s own riff-praising, cosmos-worshiping metal unity returns with another round of their raw northern “döömer”.

Hail Cosmos! We’re all döömed!

Helsinki’s own riff-praising, cosmos-worshiping trio of doom, the infamous and heavy-as-hell unity known as , is ready to stimulate and distort our senses once again with what they like to call “döömer” in their brand new opus entitled Astral Death Cult. And if you have absolutely no idea of what “döömer” means, let’s say it’s simply dark astral energy masterfully compressed by our beloved sonic triumvirate comprised of Deaf Hank on vocals and bass, Big Dog on the guitar and Joe E. Deliverance on drums into a unique northern mix of stoner, doom, sludge and psychedelic elements with hints of Death and Black Metal. Or is this still too complicated for your terrestrial mind?

Astral Death Cult is the second full-length album released by Dö and their fifth release since the band’s inception in 2013 in “Hellsinki”, following the path of reverberating sounds and distortions paved in their previous releases, those being their debut self-tiled EP from 2014, the EP Den from 2015, their first full-length installment Tuho from 2016, and the EP Astral: Death/Birth from 2017. However, while their core essence remained intact through the years, with all albums being recorded live to get the genuine dynamics of the trio on each track, the lyrical themes have evolved from mysticism, misanthropy and anti-religiousness towards saluting the great forces of nature and the void that surrounds us, matching their musical direction flawlessly and, consequently, providing the listener a truly unique experience while listening to the album’s 36 minutes of pure “dööm”.

Joe’s funereal beats kick off the three-minute invitation to emptiness and obscurity titled Intergalacticlude, where the bass by Deaf Hank sounds as dirty and raw as it can be, also bringing to our ears and minds somber vociferations and a menacing aura. After such killer start we have the superb Atmosfear, which kicks off in a truly Stygian, atmospheric way before Deaf Hank begins exhaling evil and fear through his bass and raspy vocals, exploding into ass-kicking Doom and Sludge Metal for our total delight. Just break your damned neck headbanging to this visceral hymn, while Big Dog’s Black Sabbath-inspired demonic riffs add an extra touch of evil to the music. And the pounding drums by Joe together with Deaf Hank’s malevolent bass take the lead in Drifting (In a Methane Ocean), showcasing over nine minutes of sluggish passages, a grey ambience, endless heaviness, and desperate vocalizations amidst embracing, minimalist guitar lines, smashing our heads ruthlessly. Put differently, this is exactly what happens when distortion, harmony and heaviness unite in the name of doom.

Their astral journey goes on in the also pulverizing Cosmic Communion, bringing elements from Experimental and Progressive Metal to their already multi-layered sound. I simply love the rumbling sounds Deaf Hank blasts from his bass while Big Dog keeps shredding his strings beautifully, turning it into the perfect soundtrack to a futuristic slasher flick as they keep jamming like there’s no tomorrow. Planet Eater couldn’t have started in a more menacing way, representing the epitome of old school Doom and Stoner Metal. Big Dog is on fire with his riffs and solos, while Deaf Hank barks and roars nonstop, and let me tell you their synchronicity with their stringed weapons is amazing, complemented by Joe’s slow and potent beats. And lastly, never letting the level of energy, rage and distortions go down they offer us the groovy and dark Beyond the Cosmic Horizon, where its bass and drums will make your brain tremble. Deaf Hank’s anguish gnarls get darker and darker as the music progresses, with the soulful solo by Big Dog being the icing on the cake in this excellent closing tune.

This precious gem of doom, or maybe I should just start writing “dööm” all the time from now on, can be relished in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your absolute support to Finland’s meanest and most demented trio you can purchase the album from their official BandCamp, from the Dust & Bones Records webstore, from the Lay Bare Recordings webstore, form Apple Music or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their raw and classy music, because as you’re all already aware of, we’re all “döömed” in this rotten and decaying world, and there’s nothing we can do about that apart from banging our heads and raising our horns together with Deaf Hank, Big Dog and Joe E. Deliverance until our inevitable end.

Best moments of the album: Atmosfear and Cosmic Communion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Lay Bare Recordings/Mercyful Tapes

Track listing
1. Intergalacticlude 3:11
2. Atmosfear 5:50
3. Drifting (In a Methane Ocean) 9:18
4. Cosmic Communion 6:11
5. Planet Eater 5:43
6. Beyond the Cosmic Horizon 5:55

Band members
Deaf Hank – vocals, bass
Big Dog – guitar, backing vocals
Joe E. Deliverance – drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Alunah / Violet Hour (2019)

The Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of the newborn spawn by a fantastic UK-based Hard Rock and Doom Metal unity.

Brace yourselves, my dear metalheads, as the Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of Violet Hour, the brand new album by UK-based Hard Rock/Doom Metal frontrunners Alunah, one of the best albums of 2019 from the underground and independent scene without a shadow of a doubt. Founded in 2006 in “Sabbath City”, usually referred to as Birmingham, the band comprised of the enchantress Siân Greenaway on vocals, the talented Dean Ashton (bassist for UK’s Hard Rock institution Diamond Head) on the guitar, the unstoppable Daniel Burchmore on bass and founding member Jake Mason on drums is ready to strike once again harder than ever, bringing more riffs, more swagger and more groove to our avid ears with their newborn opus.

Recorded at Wales’ historic Foel Studio, produced by Chris Fielding (Skyhammer Studio), and featuring a beyond obscure and captivating artwork by Brazilian artist Felipe Froeder (Arcano XV), Violent Hour offers the listener a searing combination of intoxicating melodies and riffs on top of a high-class songwriting. “Alunah are very happy and excited to release Violet Hour to the world. It has been so enjoyable to write and record this album during an energetic and focused period for the band. Having it released on Heavy Psych Sounds is a great feeling and we cannot wait for people to hear it. The time to fear is now!”, commented the band about the album, inviting all of us to join them in their quest for old school doom.

Siân and the boys don’t give us a single second to breathe in the amazing opening track Trapped & Bound, spearheaded by Dean’s heavy-as-hell riffs and Jake’s pounding drums. I dare you to not bang your head to the song’s hypnotizing rhythm, a perfect fusion of the doomed music by Black Sabbath with the badass Sludge Metal played by Crowbar, and to show you how awesome this song is, it’s also featured on the 2019 compilation Doomed & Stoned in England, just like another crushing song by their countrymen Warcrab. And the somber, deep and addictive vocals by Siân add an extra touch of evil to the dark and sluggish Dance of Deceit, where Dean and Daniel are merciless with their stringed weapons, not to mention Dean’s amazing solo as the icing on the cake.

Then we’re treated to Hunt, a lesson in Doom Metal by Alunah sounding slow and enthralling form start to finish, with Jake’s beats bringing nuances of melancholy to the music while Siân beautifully declaims the song’s devilish lyrics. Put differently, it reminds me of some of the best tracks from Heaven & Hell’s classic The Devil You Know, and if you like that album you know what I’m talking about. In Hypnotised the name of the song says it all, with Dean being on fire with his demonic riffage and solos while Daniel couldn’t sound more thunderous on bass. Hence, it keeps the album at a high level of heaviness and darkness, being therefore recommended for all your beer-drinking, headbanging moments in life, whereas the title-track Violet Hour is just as mesmerizing and delicious as its predecessors, with Siân’s vocals sounding so powerful it’s hard to describe them in just a few words, and with Dean slashing our ears and minds with his grim guitar lines.

Jake smashes his drums fiercely in the also obscure and sexy Unholy Disease, one of those Doom Metal songs that will put you in a trance, or in other words, your soul belongs solely to Siân during the song’s five minutes of razor-edged riffs, low-tuned bass punches and an endless amount of electricity. Velvet sounds as delicate but at the same time as hot and striking as velvet itself, being the perfect soundtrack for a movie scene at an obscure pub somewhere in the middle of England, while Jake keeps hammering his drums slowly and steady just the way we like it, nicely boosted by Daniel’s metallic, rumbling bass. And crisp guitar lines and an enfolding atmosphere are the main ingredients in Lake of Fire, a dark and serene composition showcasing another flawless vocal performance by Siân supported by the thunderous sounds blasted by her bandmates, making you want to walk into a real lake of fire with her until the song’s ethereal finale.

This precious gem of classic Doom Metal made in the UK is already on pre-sale on the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp and webstore, as well as on several other locations such as the All That Is Heavy webstore, the Season of Mist webstore, the Shiny Beast music mailorder, and Amazon. Having said that, simply let your mind be enfolded by the spellbinding Doom Metal delivered by Alunah in Violet Hour, and may your damned soul forever be comfortable in darkness, exactly how we expect it to be in first-class Doom Metal from the always somber and charming United Kingdom.

Best moments of the album: Trapped & Bound, Hunt and Unholy Disease.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Trapped & Bound 4:58
2. Dance of Deceit 3:54
3. Hunt 5:38
4. Hypnotised 6:11
5. Violet Hour 4:24
6. Unholy Disease 4:55
7. Velvet 6:22
8. Lake of Fire 6:33

Band members
Siân Greenaway – vocals
Dean Ashton – guitar
Daniel Burchmore – bass
Jake Mason – drums

Album Review – Warcrab / Damned In Endless Night (2019)

May all your nights be damned to the sound of the soul-crushing death and doom blasted by UK’s own monolithic metal workhorses in their brand new opus.

There’s nothing better than a badass and absolutely pulverizing fusion of Death, Sludge and Doom Metal to haunt our souls on a Friday the 13th, don’t you agree? I’m pretty sure not even Jason Voorhees himself is capable of generating such heavy and reverberating sounds like UK’s own monolithic metal workhorses Warcrab, who after three years of silence return with an ever darker and more threatening sonority found in their new full-length opus, entitled Damned In Endless Night, a thunderous display of unbelievable heaviness and groove that will please all fans of the soul-crushing death and doom played by bands like Bolt Thrower, Crowbar and Eyehategod.

Carrying on where they last left in their 2016 release Scars of Aeons with their unique blend of down-tuned Sludge and ponderous Death Metal, Warcrab flesh it out and leave no room for doubt on the efficacy of their powerful and cohesive fusion of underground styles in Damned in Endless Night. Featuring almost the same lineup as from their previous album, with Martyn Grant on vocals (replacing former singer Kane Nelson), Geoff Holmes,  Paul “Budgie” Garbett and Leigh Jones on the guitars, Dave “Guppy” Simmonds on bass, and Rich Parker on drums, the long-awaited full-length from this Plymouth, Devon, England-based band is arguably their best release to date, cementing Warcrab as one of the flagships of the current underground metal scene in their homeland.

Perpetua is a serene intro where the band’s guitar trio warms up our senses for the hammering and bold Halo of Flies, with the sluggish guitars by Geoff, Paul and Leigh dictating the rhythm while Martyn begins vociferating like a demonic entity and Rich pounds his drums slowly and fiercely. In the Arms of Armageddon sounds closer to what the band offered in Scars of Aeons, which means an infernal, low-tuned and grim musicality smashing our heads mercilessly, not to mention the massive wall of sounds created by Dave and Rich in the background, whereas Blood for the Blood God is pure old school Sludge and Doom Metal for your avid ears, with Rich sounding utterly ominous on drums while Martyn basically vomits the song’s lyrics in a brutal and devilish way, therefore being highly recommended for breaking your neck in half headbanging.

Then the creepy guitars by Warcrab’s stringed triumvirate penetrate deep inside our minds in Abyssal Mausoleum, and you better get ready for over eight minutes of damned passages, low-tuned bass lines and endless obscurity, showcasing Geoff on absolute fire with his doomed guitar solos; and  Dave slashes our ears with his distorted bass lines in Magnetic Fields Collapse, a classic display of modern-day Sludge Metal infused with Death Metal-inspired vocals. In other words, simply keep banging your head nonstop and raise your horns to Warcrab until the song’s fulminating grand finale; followed by Kraken Arise (which by the way is also featured in a very interesting 2019 compilation titled Doomed & Stoned in England), a bestial onrush of Sludge Metal by Warcrab spearheaded by Martyn’s enraged roars, with Dave and Rich sounding as thunderous as the music demands with their sonic weapons.

Warcrab Damned in Endless Night Silver-embossed CD Box Set

Dave’s menacing bass lines are embraced by wicked distortions and a somber atmosphere in Unfurling Wings of Damnation, leaning towards classic Doom Metal the likes of Celtic Frost and Black Sabbath, with Geoff, Paul and Leigh extracting minimalist but potent and sharp sounds from their guitars, growing in intensity until it reaches a decimating, rockin’ sonority for our total delectation. Needless to say, Geoff’s solos are insanely heavy and crisp, adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result. Swords sounds and feels dark and demonic from start to finish, keeping the album at a truly high level of acidity, rage and madness, with Rich stealing the spotlight with his steady, sluggish beats while Martyn growls and gnarls nonstop. and its lugubrious final moments build an instant connection with the outro Damnati, an instrumental feast of cutting riffs and solos, pounding beats and sheer darkness that puts a climatic ending to such impactful album.

I became a fan of the music by Warcrab in 2016 after listening to Scars of Aeons, but I must admit those guys stepped up their game in terms of aggressiveness, obscurity and intricacy in Damned In Endless Night, on sale from several locations such as the band’s own BandCamp page and the Transcending Obscurity webstore (where you can also find a sensational Damned in Endless Night silver-embossed CD box set, limited to 150 and containing an 8-panel silver digipak CD, an autographed card signed by the band personally, a logo patch, an album artwork badge, a fridge magnet and a 3D sticker), as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow this six-piece infernal horde on Facebook and to bang your head like a maniac to their harsh and ruthless music, and then (only then) may all your nights be endless and damned.

Best moments of the album: Halo of Flies, Blood for the Blood God and Kraken Arise.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Perpetua (instrumental) 1:59
2. Halo of Flies 5:20
3. In the Arms of Armageddon 5:27
4. Blood for the Blood God 5:49
5. Abyssal Mausoleum 8:25
6. Magnetic Fields Collapse 4:22
7. Kraken Arise 3:35
8. Unfurling Wings of Damnation 7:33
9. Swords 6:18
10. Damnati (instrumental) 3:13

Band members
Martyn Grant – vocals
Geoff Holmes – lead guitar
Paul “Budgie” Garbett – guitar
Leigh Jones – guitar
Dave “Guppy” Simmonds – bass
Rich Parker – drums

Album Review – Slipknot / We Are Not Your Kind (2019)

Heavier and more experimental than usual, those masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.

From the obscure depths of the human psyche, American Alternative Metal horde Slipknot returns after five long years with a brand new album, entitled We Are Not Your Kind, the sixth studio album in the career of those masked marauders and a beyond solid statement by the band saying that, despite all the losses and problems they’ve had in the past decade or so, they can still deliver top-of-the-line metal music for the masses. Produced by Greg Fidelman, who has already worked with several renowned bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Slayer and with Slipknot themselves in the albums .5 The Gray Chapter in 2014 and Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) in 2004, We Are Not Your Kind has been described as a heavier and more experimental album than their previous releases featuring moody instrumentals and electronic elements, and the final result is simply stunning.

Not only that, We Are Not Your Kind is the band’s first album since the firing of longtime member Chris Fehn, while the rest of the crew remains the same, with Sid Wilson and Craig “133” Jones on turntables, samples, media and keyboards, Jim Root and Mick Thomson on the guitars, Shawn “Clown” Crahan on custom percussion and backing vocals, Corey Taylor on lead vocals, Alessandro Venturella on bass and Jay Weinberg on drums, not to mention their newest member “Tortilla Man” also on custom percussion and backing vocals, who joined the band for their live performances earlier this year. Jim Root himself said that the album is “the most time we’ve had to write a record, and work stuff out together” and that “while the industry is moving toward singles, Slipknot wanted to make an album experience, front to back.” On a side note, while the title of the album is taken from a line in the band’s standalone single “All Out Life”, released in 2018, that specific song is not featured on the standard edition, but only on the Japanese edition for a reason beyond my knowledge. Well, who cares, right? As long as the music found in the standard edition of the album kicks ass we can live without “All Out Life” despite that being a damn good song.

Insert Coin is one of those fantastic, ethereal intros that transport the listener into the wicked world of Slipknot, before their new anthem Unsainted, featuring the Angel City Chorale, invades our senses, with the thunderous percussion blasted by Jay and Shawn reeking classic Slipknot, all boosted by the sick shredding by Jim and Mick and lyrics that deal with Corey’s fight against depression (“Oh, I’ll never kill myself to save my soul / I was gone but how was I to know? / I didn’t come this far to sink so low / I’m finally holding on to letting go”). Needless to say, I can’t wait to watch them playing this song live next week in Toronto, like what they did on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this year. Birth of the Cruel, a mid-tempo tune perfect for headbanging while Corey alternates between his demented clean vocals and harsh roars, is a lot less violent but still creepy and thunderous, with Jim, Mick and Alessandro delivering tons of groove through their strings; followed by the somber bridge Death Because of Death, featuring guest vocalist Kat Primetau, warming us up for Nero Forte, bringing forward a classic fusion of Heavy and Alternative Metal and a great job done by Jay on drums, dictating the song’s pounding rhythm while Corey sounds as crazy as he can be, always supported by smooth but piercing backing vocals.

Critical Darling is an almost-radio-friendly tune by Corey, Shawn & Co., showcasing slashing riffs by the band’s badass guitar duo while Corey gnarls manically, once again supported by spot-on backing vocals which end up making the chorus extremely catchy; whereas in A Liar’s Funeral a cryptic intro morphs into some sort of “new version” of their own dark ballad “Snuff”, suddenly exploding into a neck-breaking sonority with hints of Doom and Sludge Metal, alternating between sheer melancholy and raging madness from start to finish. Then in the magnificent Red Flag we face the most classic version of Slipknot in the album, overflowing insanity, heaviness, fury and that awesome blend of the wicked noises by Sid and Craig with the venomous percussion by Shawn. Hence, this should sound outstanding if played live, not to mention how sharp both guitars and Alessandro’s bass punches sound. Then after the uncanny bridge What’s Next we’re treated to one of Slipknot’s most experimental songs of all time, Spiders, which sounds absolutely addictive, demented and fun, with all its background noises and percussion generating a unique ambience for our avid ears and mind. Put differently, simply relax, sit down and sing the song’s weird lyrics along with Corey, while Jim and Mick deliver short but crushing riffs as the music progresses.

Somber beats and riffs ignite the pulverizing Orphan, presenting the band’s trademark sonority that made them famous worldwide, and with Alessandro and Jay being on fire with their rumbling instruments while Corey’s vocals get utterly deranged, sounding perfect for smashing your skull into the circle pit. The last part of album is comprised of longer-than-usual songs that surpass the 6-minute barrier, starting with the very experimental My Pain, presenting an eerie atmosphere created by Sid and Craig and low, pensive vocalizations; however, the music never gets as heavy or fast as we’re used to, making me wonder if fans of classic Slipknot will enjoy it. Anyway, that eccentric vibe goes on in Not Long for This World, where Corey and the band’s electronic duo Sid and Craig set the tone before the rest of the band comes ripping with their acid instruments, bringing to our ears a beautiful melody and rumbling bass lines, with its creepy ending building an instant connection with Solway Firth, a circle pit-catalyst showcasing scorching riffs by Jim and Mick and endless electricity flowing from Jay’s beats, while Corey declaims the song’s austere words in great fashion (“I’m not ahead of my time- I just drew the first breath – If I’m alive tomorrow / I will alleviate the pressure… by cutting you out of me / I found my bottom line – dead on the front lines- I know I’ll never go home / So set fire to your ships and past regrets and be free”). And lastly, as aforementioned, All Out Life might be only present in the Japanese edition of the album, but it’s such a great song, perfect for slamming and screaming its lyrics together with the band (like you can see on their performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live), it makes the investment in this version of the album totally worth it.

In a nutshell, one of the most innovative and influential bands of modern metal music from the past 20 years, the one and only Slipknot, managed to deliver a fantastic album against all odds, proving once again that there’s nothing better than adversity to makes us (and, in this particular case, the entire band) stronger and more focused. Having said that, I highly recommend you grab your copy of the album, as well as other well-crafted merch, from the Slipknot Official Store, and buy your ticket for the Knotfest Roadshow when the band invades your city with their chaotic and rebellious anthems. We Are Not Your Kind might sound a bit too experimental or modern for some people, but I’m pretty sure most fans of contemporary heavy music will have a very good time listening to this multi-layered and very dense album. And whenever you catch yourself screaming “we are not your kind!” together with Corey and the guys, you’ll be at the same time showing everyone Heavy Metal is and will always be YOUR kind of music.

Best moments of the album: Unsainted, Red Flag, Spiders, Orphan and All Out Life.

Worst moments of the album: My Pain.

Released in 2019 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Insert Coin 1:38
2. Unsainted 4:20
3. Birth of the Cruel 4:35
4. Death Because of Death 1:20
5. Nero Forte 5:15
6. Critical Darling 6:25
7. A Liar’s Funeral 5:27
8. Red Flag 4:11
9. What’s Next 0:53
10. Spiders 4:03
11. Orphan 6:01
12. My Pain 6:48
13. Not Long for This World 6:35
14. Solway Firth 5:56

Japanese Edition bonus track
15. All Out Life 5:40

Band members
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables, keyboards
(#4) Jim Root – lead and rhythm guitars
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – samples, media, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – custom percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – lead and rhythm guitars
(#8) Corey Taylor – lead vocals
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Jay Weinberg – drums

Guest musicians
Angel City Chorale – choral performance on “Unsainted”
Kat Primetau – additional vocals on “Death Because of Death”

Album Review – Mettadone / Rotten Flattery (2019)

This talented Ukrainian entity returns after four long years with a much darker and rawer sound, bringing to our ears first-class European Death and Doom Metal.

Formed in 2014 as a Gothic-doom duo by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Evgeniy Shamarin in Kharkiv, a city in northeast Ukraine which is considered the Black Metal capital of the country, Death/Doom Metal unity Mettadone are ready to crush with a brand new lineup and musical direction in their sophomore album Rotten Flattery, highly recommended for fans of bands with a classic 90’s European sound such as Hypocrisy, Edge of Sanity and Paradise Lost. Comprised of the aforementioned Evgeniy on vocals and lead guitar, Sergey Baskakov also on the guitar, Alexander Chernyakhovsky on bass and Alexey Silenko on drums, Mettadone decided to venture through much darker and devilish lands in Rotten Flattery than what we were able to witness in their debut album Invisible Disease, mainly thanks to Evgeniy moving from drums to vocals and guitar when their previous vocalist left the band, switching from their My Dying Bride-inspired sonority to a much rawer approach, consequently sounding closer to other amazing underground acts like Warcrab, Moss Upon The Skull, Refusal and their countrymen 1914.

The quartet begins hammering their instruments mercilessly in the opening track Mind’s Prisoner, showcasing a well-balanced fusion of classic Death Metal and old school Doom Metal (and even Blackened Doom), with Evgeniy growling like a demon while Alexey crushes his drums in great fashion; whereas in Obscurity of Hypocrisy they keep blasting hatred and rage in the form of extreme music, with the band’s guitar duo Evgeniy and Sergey being on absolute fire, adding a welcome touch of evil to the music with their raw, razor-edged riffs. Then Alexander and Alexey extract pure metallic and utterly menacing sounds form their respective instruments in Untrue Entity, generating a thunderous atmosphere perfect for Evgeniy’s demented roars, resulting in six minutes of darkened sounds perfect for banging your head like there’s no tomorrow. And in Pray for Help we’re treated to a more ferocious version of classic Sludge and Doom Metal, with symphonic elements bringing epicness and melancholy to the overall musicality. Furthermore, it’s a pleasure to listen to Alexey on drums, as he can be at the same time infernal and very technical, never letting the music get stale or tiresome.

Living up to the legacy of underground Doom Metal, the quartet delivers the Stygian tune On the Verge, showcasing a beautiful work done by Evgeniy, Sergey and Alexander with their stringed weapons, and also presenting some clean vocals and crisp guitar solos as “bonuses” for our avid ears. In a Funeral Home showcases creepy piano notes intertwined with cutting riffs and pounding drums in what’s the darkest of all songs of the album with its seven minutes of demonic sounds and a strong feeling of hopelessness, just the way we like it in old school doom, also sounding very progressive and intricate from start to finish. Act of Revenge is another song tailored for ripping your spinal chord headbanging where Evgeniy’s growls get deeper and deeper as the music progresses, with the band’s guitarists being in absolute sync, therefore delivering flammable riffs from their axes while Alexey dictates the rhythm with his hellish beats. The last track from the regular version of the album, entitled Orphan, will pierce your ears and minds with its classic Doom Metal sonority infused with Death Metal nuances, and you better be ready because the quartet won’t stop hitting you hard with their vicious music, with the song’s ending being an interesting mix of the Death Metal by Unleashed with the obscure music by Paradise Lost. And lastly, Mettadone offer us more of their dark and visceral music in the bonus track He’ll Not Be Alive, where Evgeniy keeps gnarling demonically while his bandmates fire insanity and violence from their instruments, with the strident sound of guitars being simply fantastic and extremely enjoyable.

After listening to Rotten Flattery, I’m more than sure this new version of Mettadone is here to stay, providing fans of obscure doom and death everything they can ask for in underground extreme music. Hence, don’t forget to give Mettadone a shout on Facebook and on VKontakte, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their visceral music, and obviously to purchase a copy of Rotten Flattery from the Archaic Sound’s BandCamp page or from Discogs. After all is said and done, although Kharkiv might be considered the Black Metal capital of Ukraine, let’s say that the city also has its share of first-class Death and Doom Metal to offer us fans, thanks to the great job done by Mettadone in their brand new opus and hopefully in many more to come in their promising career.

Best moments of the album: Obscurity of Hypocrisy, Pray for Help and Act of Revenge.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Archaic Sound

Track listing
1. Mind’s Prisoner 7:10
2. Obscurity of Hypocrisy 4:26
3. Untrue Entity 6:16
4. Pray for Help 5:31
5. On the Verge 6:41
6. In a Funeral Home 7:06
7. Act of Revenge 5:26
8. Orphan 7:34

Bonus track
9. He’ll Not Be Alive 3:49

Band members
Evgeniy Shamarin – lead vocals, guitars
Sergey Baskakov – guitars
Alexander Chernyakhovsky – bass
Alexey Silenko – drums