Album Review – Holycide / Annihilate… Then Ask! (2017)

A fantastic album of old school “Motherfucking Thrash Metal” by an unstoppable quintet from Spain, annihilating everything and everyone that dares to cross their path.

What started in 2004 as an uncompromised Thrash Metal project by vocalist Dave Rotten (frontman of underground Spanish Death Metal act Avulsed) long before the New Wave Of Thrash Metal exploded massively has finally reached its final stage of evolution, culminating in an unstoppable and pugnacious thrashing beast for lovers of bands such as Dark Angel, Infernäl Mäjesty, Atrophy, Coroner and Sacrifice. In other words, it might have taken over a decade for Madrid-based steamroller Holycide to become a reality, but after listening to the crushing music from their debut album, the excellent Annihilate… Then Ask!, you’ll see the wait for this new entity created by Mr. Rotten was definitely worth it.

The intention, from the very beginning, was to create a very aggressive kind of thrash, exempt of commercial touches and focusing on the intense side of this kind of music. However, Dave was able to record the project’s first demo only in 2013, named No Escape, followed by the EP Toxic Mutiation in 2015. Although those releases might not have been exactly what Dave had in mind at first, they certainly fueled him and his bandmates to keep moving forward and become a full-bodied Thrash Metal group in the next couple of years. Featuring a kick-ass old school cover art by Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust), Annihilate… Then Ask! not only brings forward all the passion of the members of Holycide for the most hostile form of Thrash Metal, but it’s also the first major step in the career of a project that can now be considered one of the best and most electrifying new names of the genre worldwide.

Guitarists Miguel Bárez and Salva Esteban, together with drummer Jorge Utrera, build the stage for Dave and his demented growls in the opening track, a brutal and metallic devastation named Afterworld Remnants, a perfect sample of what the band calls “Motherfucking Thrash Metal”, followed by the insane title-track Annihilate… Then Ask!, presenting more of Dave’s sick screams supported by the reverberating bass by Dani Fernández. This is another classic chant with amazing backing vocals during its beyond-fun chorus, with the album’s crisp production boosting its already belligerent vibe. Dani continues to kick us in the head with his bass while the rest of the band delivers pure Thrash Metal for our total delight in Human’s Last Dawn, in special the awesome job done by the talented Jorge on drums and the old school guitar solos by Miguel and Salva. And following the path of icons such as Exodus, Forbidden and Overkill, the band blasts high-speed, visceral Thrash Metal that will certainly inspire you to slam into the pit in Eager to Take Control, with highlights to the always inebriate and acid growls by Dave.

Motörhead, Holycide’s tribute to the most badass Rock N’ Roll institution of all time is flammable, potent and as thrashy as hell, with an entertaining bonus for the listener in all the references to Lemmy and his crew in its lyrics, while the band delivers unstoppable beats, classy solos and endless aggression to our ears. The next tune, Bonebreaker, is an uproarious, rhythmic and ruthless composition, with the bass lines by Dani and the riffs by Miguel and Salva cutting our skin deeply (the song could have been slightly shorter to keep the music fresh, though); whereas the band’s raging onrush of Thrash Metal goes on in full force with another furious spawn entitled Deserve to be Erased, where Dave continues to be the madman on vocals while Jorge accelerates the music with his frantic and precise drumming. Needless to say, this song should sound fantastic if played live.

Holycide’s cover version for Losers, one of the most famous songs by American Thrash/Speed Metal band Détente, is a thing of beauty, living up to the anarchy and hardcore vibe of the original version, with its guitar solos being exactly what we want in Thrash Metal, while Leather Spikes Chains & Blood carries in its name all elements we crave in good heavy music. Musically speaking, it’s a magnificent feast of slashing riffs, thunderous bass lines, powerful beats and a superb performance by Dave on vocals, supported by the song’s sick backing vocals. Put differently, it can’t get any more thrashing than this. And the album ends at maximum speed and savagery with the merciless tune Back and Forth, a demolishing hymn led by the hellish growls by Dave and Jorge’s intricate and demonic drumming. Well, what are you waiting for to have some beers and get smashed into the circle pit to the sound if this sensational song?

If you’re still not convinced about the absolute awesomeness of the music by Holycide, simply click HERE and, after around 42 minutes of sheer havoc, you’ll certainly bow your head to this amazing Spanish quintet (or at least headbang nonstop to them). Holycide can be reached through their Facebook page, where you can keep updated with everything the band is working on, while Annihilate… Then Ask! can be purchased at their BandCamp, at the Xtreem Music’s BandCamp or webstore, on Amazon or at Discogs. When you have in your hands an amazing album of old school Thrash Metal like what Holycide are offering us, you don’t ask anything. You simply annihilate whoever crosses your path.

Best moments of the album: Annihilate… Then Ask!, Motörhead, Leather Spikes Chains & Blood and Back and Forth.

Worst moments of the album: Bonebreaker.

Released in 2017 Xtreem Music

Track listing
1. Afterworld Remnants 4:13
2. Annihilate… Then Ask! 4:04
3. Human’s Last Dawn 4:43
4. Eager to Take Control 3:24
5. Motörhead 4:42
6. Bonebreaker 4:56
7. Deserve to be Erased 4:47
8. Losers (Détente cover) 3:13
9. Leather Spikes Chains & Blood 4:20
10. Back and Forth 4:00

Band members
Dave Rotten – vocals
Miguel Bárez – guitar
Salva Esteban – guitar
Dani Fernández – bass
Jorge Utrera – drums

Guest musician
Juancar – guest vocals on hooligan chorus

Album Review – Aegri Somnia / Ad Augusta per Angusta (2017)

A compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, where Spanish oral traditional music is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Whenever metal gets blended with any other type of music in the world, in special with more traditional styles and genres, the result is always beyond interesting, transpiring creativity, passion, feeling and entertaining us all in a different way than our usual metal bands. That encounter of the fury and darkness of heavy music with distinct non-metal sounds is exactly what you’ll experience in Ad Augusta per Angusta, the debut full-length album by Madrid-based Black/Avantgarde Metal project Aegri Somnia, where Spanish oral traditional music, unknown even for most of Spanish people, is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Aegri Somnia are Cristina R. Galván (also known as Lady Carrot), from the Castilian folk music world, and multi-instrumentalist Nightmarer, from the Avantgarde Metal scene (As Light Dies, Garth Arum), who decided to form the project in 2012 in an old ghostly house located in a northern Spanish valley, surrounded by loneliness, silence and the smell of wet earth. And it didn’t take long for the duo to give life to Ad Augusta per Angusta from the harmonious union of their skills and backgrounds, offering the listener a compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, a travel through the rural and magical Spain with its lights and shadows, and a gaze into the abyss of the black and tenebrous Spain with the inner cruelty and brutality of human beings. Featuring a stylish artwork designed by Cristina and Nightmarer themselves, Ad Augusta per Angusta will certainly redefine the way you see folk and metal music.

Serene acoustic guitars and the delicate voice by Cristina kick off the folk composition Seran, full of traditional Iberian elements and showcasing a steady, melancholic atmosphere. Furthermore, all additional instruments played by both Cristina and Nightmarer are necessary to the music, never sounding out of place. Aegri Somina offer heavier guitars and a rousing vibe in the excellent and classy chant Señor Platero, presenting a great performance once again by Cristina on vocals while Nightmarer brings the word “metal” to the musicality in a perfect balance between extreme music and Iberian folk; followed by La Culebra, a song that’s at the same time tailored for a dancing performance and for a metal concert. Not only Cristina changes her tone a bit in this song, sounding more aggressive than before, but also the song’s symphonic elements enhance its darkness, cohesiveness and taste.

La Deshonra, the longest of all tracks, transpires melancholy through the beautiful acoustic guitars by Nightmarer and the passionate vocals by Cristina, and despite the music not having any breaks or variations, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. In fact, its constant rhythm is what makes it mesmerizing. In Molinero – Vengo De Moler, the fusion of metallic guitars and the classic sound of unique instruments like spoons, clamps and stomps, among others, creates a fantastic ambience for Cristina to declaim the song’s lyrics, filling all spaces in this exotic and fun composition, whereas in La Niña De La Arena, one of the best tracks of the album, the duo speeds up the pace and delivers sharp guitar lines, both electric and acoustic. This is indeed an intricate chant displaying several different instruments and layers, with nuances of modern folk music to spice it up a bit. And exhibiting a softer side, Cristina and Nightmarer focus on the more gentle sounds of their instruments in Romance De Santa Elena, generating a calm atmosphere where Cristina beautifully tells the story through the song’s poetic lyrics.

Ronda De Mayo brings Iberian folk with hints of modern Hard Rock, Folk and Progressive Metal, feeling like part of the soundtrack for a dark movie, with its percussion and synths working really well, keeping the music flowing smoothly. Then we have Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte, another dancing tune full of clapping and acoustic lines keeping up with the Spanish traditions, with Cristina going back to her sharper vocal lines while Nightmarer does an amazing job with his unstoppable guitar, and Charro Del Labrador, where Cristina continues to showcase her tender vocal lines, with the musicality in this case being denser than usual thanks to the heavier beats and louder folk instruments. I personally think this experimental composition should sound very interesting if they record a full metal version of it. And Veneno, the last composition in Ad Augusta per Angusta, offers the listener atmospheric passages and a high dosage of melancholy, and albeit not being a bad composition, it’s in my opinion slightly below the rest of the album in terms of creativity.

It’s extremely easy to know more about Aegri Somnia and their music. For instance, you can listen to the full album on YouTube, where you can also watch an amazing video by Cristina herself speaking about the traditional percussion instruments used in Ad Augusta per Angusta and other details about the Iberian oral tradition (with subtitles in English available). You can also follow the duo on Facebook, and purchase Ad Augusta per Angusta at their BandCamp page, at the Symbol Of Domination’s BandCamp page, at the Satanath Records’ webstore or at Discogs. And if exploring new music is part of your life, then you’re more than welcome to join Cristina and Nightmarer in their voyage through the darkness and light of the rural Spain.

Best moments of the album: Señor Platero, Molinero – Vengo De Moler and La Niña De La Arena.

Worst moments of the album: Veneno.

Released in 2017 Symbol Of Domination/United By Chaos

Track listing
1. Seran 4:08
2. Señor Platero 4:51
3. La Culebra 3:13
4. La Deshonra 6:06
5. Molinero – Vengo De Moler 5:05
6. La Niña De La Arena 2:40
7. Romance De Santa Elena 4:28
8. Ronda De Mayo 4:17
9. Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte 3:40
10. Charro Del Labrador 5:41
11. Veneno 4:51

Band members
Cristina R. Galvan (Lady Carrot) – female vocal, galician and castilian tambourine, pandero cuadrado, palo de agua, spoons, almirez, shells and claps
Nightmarer – male vocal, electric & acoustic guitar, fretless bass, keyboards/synths, programming, violin, accordion, wind chimes, claps and stomps

Album Review – Arkaik Excruciation / Cursed Blood of Doom (2016)

Invoking the impure sense of primitivism through their aggressive and ruthless music, here comes a new Spanish Black and Death Metal quartet with their excellent debut full-length album.

Rating5

front_cover_aeIt doesn’t matter if you go to Catalonia, Andalusia, Galicia, Madrid or any other region in Spain, you’ll always find amazing heavy music all over “la piel del toro”. And if the genre in question is extreme music things get even better, with names such as Sartegos, Balmog, Xérion and Suspiral, as well as bands already reviewed by The Headbanging Moose like Tsar Bomb, Mørknatt and EvnaR, proudly carrying the flag of Spanish Extreme Metal and turning the whole country into an oasis of cutting riffs, blast beats and demonic growls. Thus, that distinguished selection of extreme groups has recently been joined by another hellish band named Arkaik Excruciation, who are releasing their debut full-length album entitled Cursed Blood of Doom, a solid tribute to the foundations of Black, Death and Thrash Metal.

Invoking the impure sense of primitivism through their aggressive and ruthless music since their inception in 2014, when they released their first demo tape named Among the Vortex of Chaos, this La Coruña-based horde of darkness adds the most obscure elements from extreme music to their creations, something you can easily notice and truly enjoy while listening to each track from Cursed Blood of Doom, featuring an obscure artwork by artist Alejandro Tedín. There’s no secret ingredient in the music by Arkaik Excruciation, just well-engendered extreme music by four talented musicians, presented as eight powerful and straightforward tracks embellished by classy and somber names. In other words, how not to get thrilled by a song named “Swallow the Black Wings of Agrat bat Mahlat”, right?

Rude and putrid sounds will invade your ears in the bestial Black and Death Metal composition Spiral Scythes of Endless Pain, a darker version of Cannibal Corpse where drummer M. presents his business card through his demonic beats and fills, while lead singer and guitarist M.S. enhances the song’s ferocity with his metallic riffs and cavernous growls. And the song doesn’t actually end, it simply builds a direct link to the brutish Night of Sodom, where the band’s fast and furious carnage goes on with M.S. getting even more aggressive on vocals. In addition, the musicality feels more Death than Black Metal at times, showcasing the bands versatility when switching between extreme styles.

bandStills of Fire and Poison is an eerie interlude comprised of noises that feel they’re coming from the pits of hell, opening the gates for the infernal Swallow the Black Wings of Agrat bat Mahlat, a pulverizing lesson in dementia and heaviness in Extreme Metal and definitely one of the top moments of such obscure album, with highlights to the sick drumming by M. In addition to that, its guitars also keep spreading a constant and deranged sensation of hatred until its funereal ending, paving the way to Anesthesic Ritual of Silence and its initial wicked noises, replaced by the hellish guitars by M.S. and K. Moreover, M. provides some spot-on Doom Metal-inspired beats to this semi-instrumental track, while M.S. just keeps gnarling a little in the background in a dark and satanic way.

Suddenly, all hell breaks loose in the most demented of all tracks, Into the Fields of the Sun-Blood, a kick-ass hybrid of Black Metal with the extreme pugnacity of old school Death Metal where the screams by M.S. are effectively complemented by all other instruments and their nonstop savagery, creating a damned ambience that will devour your soul. The creepy and short Clockwork Devotional Saw works as a bridge to the last song of the album, the demented Sadistic Scourge, where elements from Black, Thrash and Death Metal are united in a high-octane demolishing way. K. and F. are unrelenting with their strings, whereas M. fires his groovy and menacing beats, fading into ominous noises and vociferations that go on for over two minutes until the song is finally over.

In case you want to know more about the demonic realm of Arkaik Excruciation, go check their Facebook page, and if you want to purchase a copy of the maleficent Cursed Blood of Doom (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE), you’ll find it for sale at their own BandCamp page, at the Caverna Abismal Records’ BandCamp and Discogs page, or at the Duplicate Records’ BandCamp and webstore. And, from now on, always remember that if you’re searching for good Extreme Metal, the region of Galicia (as well as the rest of spain) is your go-to place.

Best moments of the album: Night of Sodom, Swallow the Black Wings of Agrat bat Mahlat and Into the Fields of the Sun-Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Anesthesic Ritual of Silence.

Released in 2016 Caverna Abismal Records / Duplicate Records

Track listing
1. Spiral Scythes of Endless Pain 5:18
2. Night of Sodom 4:18
3. Stills of Fire and Poison (Interlude) 2:02
4. Swallow the Black Wings of Agrat bat Mahlat 5:50
5. Anesthesic Ritual of Silence 4:15
6. Into the Fields of the Sun-Blood 7:26
7. Clockwork Devotional Saw (Interlude) 0:26
8. Sadistic Scourge 7:15

Band members
M.S. – guitars, vocals
K. – lead guitars
F. – bass
M. – drums

Album Review – EvnaR / E.V.N.A.R. (2016)

Two high-skilled Spanish brothers and their loyal Slovenian sledgehammer deliver a lesson in Blackened Death Metal, spreading darkness and destruction all over the world through their purely demonic and extremely refined technique.

cover artworkConceived in the minds of Spanish blood brothers R.M. (vocals) and J.M. (guitars) before founding Black/Death Metal band Between the Frost in 1993, and reignited in 2010 with the help of the impressive Slovenian drummer Robert Kovačič (Belphegor, Obduktion, Nothnegal), Blackened Death Metal act EvnaR is releasing their debut full-length opus, curiously entitled E.V.N.A.R., with the main objective of spreading darkness and destruction all over the world through their purely demonic and extremely refined technique, which will certainly please all fans of Behemoth, Belphegor and God Dethroned, among others.

The pitch-black artwork by Spanish artist César Valladares, whose pencils are also seen in the artworks for bands like Asphyx, Balmog and Graveyard, with the Reaper sitting on his throne waiting for the doomed to take unholy communion with him, not only represents the desire of the brothers to have a more primitive cover art based in the classic concept of the Grim Reaper, but it’s also a precise depiction of the unrelenting Blackened Death Metal discharged by this exciting band from Tarragona, Catalonia. As one final (but important) detail before all hell breaks loose, E.V.N.A.R. was recorded with a lot of patience and dedication for one year in different studios in Spain and Slovenia, being finally mastered by multi-instrumentalist and producer Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio in Sweden, just to give you an idea of how crisp and ear-splitting the compositions by EvnaR sound.

The sharp and fast riffs by J.M. ignite the Blackened Death Metal extravaganza named Blasphemia Manifesta, a feast of extreme music from the netherworld where R.M. personifies the song’s demonic lyrics through his gruesome growling (“Darkness unites us beyond / All human will / We should be strong as the evil in whom believe / Denial praises / Utter darkness / This is our grim black cult, grim black cult of death”), while in Contemptus Vitæ we are able to witness why Robert was the perfect fit for the band, delivering complex and vicious beats and fills. Furthermore, the whole song leans towards pure Black Metal due to its frantic speed and to the hellish sound of the guitar by J.M., an extra hint of devastation to an already solid composition.

Then we have a fantastic composition from hell entitled Infinite Dark Hatred, which name epitomizes its sounding. There’s a gargantuan amount of hate and despair in R.M.’s vocals, barking like a rabid demon most of the time, whereas the intricacy found in the drumming by Robert gets closer to what we can normally find in more progressive heavy music. In Death In The Air (Stench Of The Slain), rumbling bass lines are quickly followed by more satanic riffs and bestial beats, getting even more blackened than the previous tracks and, consequently, resulting in a nonstop havoc highly recommended for fans of old school Black Metal with a more melodic approach. If you’re a true fan of guttural vocals, I bet you’ll be screaming the chorus together with R.M. every single time you listen to this amusing chant.

band photoKing Of The Grand Uruk has as its main ingredient its epic lyrics about a powerful entity of darkness (“Two parts god, one part man / King of the Grand Uruk / The envy of the gods / Carved his story in stone / Dreams and visions fighting both / Against demons and men”), which will surely grab the attention of any listener avid for a good storyline behind a sonic chaos. Musically speaking, it’s another potent blast of extreme music, where not a single space is left empty, and if you know Robert from his previous bands you can imagine how astonishing his drumming sounds in this savage composition. And embracing total fuckin’ darkness, the Spanish brothers and their loyal Slovenian sledgehammer deliver traditional Black Metal with the most poisonous elements from Death Metal in Torment of the Damned, showcasing an amazing combination of metallic riffs and rhythmic beats.

Conceived In Fire provides a quick break for us to recover our energies in the form of acoustic guitars and less devastating riffs, but that’s obviously for a very short while as their menacing sounding returns to torment our souls ruthlessly. Furthermore, the complexity displayed through the guitar lines by J.M. will put a smile in the face of any guitarist who loves extreme music or even the ones who have never had any contact with the furious uproar of Blackened Death Metal. And last but not least, it looks like EvnaR have absolutely no mercy on our souls based on the demented tune that closes the album, named My Cremation, where the unstoppable beats blasted by Robert complement the hurricane of darkness led by J.M., while R.M. keeps vociferating his putrid words vigorously.

Although it might have taken a considerable amount of time for EvnaR to become a reality in the world of extreme music, every second was worth the wait thanks to the brilliant job done by this power trio when recording E.V.N.A.R., and in order to know more about their blasphemous and cataclysmic music, go check their Facebook page and get your copy of E.V.N.A.R. at their BandCamp page, at The Vinyl Division’s BandCamp page, or at Discogs. I won’t be surprised if I see this album among several rankings listing the top releases of 2016, it doesn’t matter if it will be on a list built by an entity specialized in extreme music or not, so compelling the content of the entire album is.

Best moments of the album: Blasphemia Manifesta, Death In The Air (Stench Of The Slain) and My Cremation.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Winter Demons/The Vinyl Division

Track listing
1. Blasphemia Manifesta 2:52
2. Contemptus Vitæ 3:49
3. Infinite Dark Hatred 4:36
4. Death In The Air (Stench Of The Slain) 3:25
5. King Of The Grand Uruk 3:10
6. Torment Of The Damned 4:44
7. Conceived In Fire 6:10
8. My Cremation 2:44

Band members
R.M. – vocals
J.M. – guitars
Robert Kovačič – drums

Album Review – Mørknatt / Witchcraft of Domination EP (2016)

If Norwegian Black Metal is what you truly desire, why not going to Spain instead of Norway and try the blasphemous music by this promising horde of darkness?

Rating5

coverWhenever you search for Black Metal, where do you usually go to as the most reliable source of that type of extreme music? I guess your answer is Norway, correct? What if I said you can also find high-end old school Norwegian Black Metal in a place not-so-far from Norway, but with a complete different culture and climate? I’m talking about Spain, more specifically the city of Tarragona, a port city located in the Catalonia region on the Mediterranean Sea, about one hour only from Barcelona. There you’ll find the up-and-coming Satanic/Pagan Black Metal heretics Mørknatt, who have just released their debut EP entitled Witchcraft of Domination.

Formed in 2014, this newborn band is obviously highly inspired by the biggest icons of Norwegian Black Metal such as Emperor, Immortal and Darkthrone, having even their name taken from the unique language spoken in the Kingdom of Norway (Mørknatt means “Dark Night” in Norwegian). Led by guitarist Kongen av Slanger (“King of Snakes” from Norwegian) and featuring a beyond controversial artwork by Spanish illustrator Ricardo Caballero, Witchcraft of Domination offers the listener four blasphemous and vile chants as an advancement of the band’s first album to be called Victorious Satan. And based on the content of this short and sweet EP, all hell will break loose when this Spanish horde finally unleashes their first full-length album upon humanity.

The first of the four ungodly tracks of the EP, named Calanda of Antichrist, brings forward classic Black Metal the likes of Gorgoroth and Immortal, with Fenrir summoning darkness through his satanic screams while Kongen av Slanger uses his guitar as a weapon of mass destruction. Moreover, the atmosphere is dense and vile, as expected from a Black Metal act as talented and focused as Mørknatt. Following that infernal start we have Satanic Sex, with one of those sexual/profane intros you should avoid listening to with your grandmother (unless she’s as diabolical as you are) or in front of innocent children. Anyway, the song’s blasphemous lyrics, together with its bestial riffs, are a tribute to true Black Metal and everything a diehard fan of the genre wants to hear in extreme music. And although drummer Kunstdood doesn’t smash his drums like in the previous track, he’s still very technical and heavy, effectively enhancing the song’s pungency.

mørknattThe next track, Serpents, presents a solid feast of extreme music with all traditional elements we enjoy like deep growls, lunatic screeches, hypnotizing riffs and relentless blast beats. In addition to that, both Kongen av Slanger and Fenrir display outstanding performances, being always beyond loyal to the foundations of Black Metal with their sounding. And finally, a brutal carnage named Ave Leviathan, which in my opinion is the most complete and gripping of the four tracks, transpires darkness and hate, switching from sheer bestiality played at full speed to slower but extremely heavy passages. The rhythmic drumming by Kunstdood matches perfectly with the infernal sounding emanating from guitar, bass and vocals, being the final ingredient in this full-bodied hymn of the netherworld.

While we all wait for the debutant full-length opus by Mørknatt, you can go give them a hellish shout at their Facebook page and enjoy their unyielding Black Metal on their YouTube channel, where you can listen to the entire Witchcraft of Domination EP. And in order to show your proper support to the independent metal scene, you can buy your digital copy of the album at their official BandCamp page. As aforementioned, it looks like Spain is an amazing alternative for fans of old school Norwegian Black Metal that want to “think outside Norway”, with the blasphemous and aggressive music by Mørknatt containing everything you look for in this legendary subgenre of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Ave Leviathan.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Calanda of Antichrist 4:54
2. Satanic Sex 4:06
3. Serpents 4:04
4. Ave Leviathan 5:46

Band members
Fenrir – vocals
Kongen av Slanger – lead guitar
Nergous – rythm guitar
Kunstdood – drums

Album Review – Tsar Bomb / Exterminans IX:XI (2015)

…and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the ungodly Blackened Death Metal cast by a demonic duo from Spain.

Rating3

CD100_outTsar Bomb, or “Царь-бомба” in Russian, might be commonly known as the nickname for the AN602 hydrogen bomb developed by the Soviet Union, the most powerful man-made nuclear weapon ever detonated, but for the past few years it has also become a synonym to the cataclysmic music by Spanish Blackened Death Metal band Tsar Bomb. The force of impact of their compositions is immeasurable, crushing your soul inhumanely, but at the same time leaving you avid for more destruction and chaos after their extreme music raid ceases.

After the release of their debut album Neowarfare in 2012, this Málaga-based hellish duo is ready to scathe our society again with their brand new record, entitled Exterminans IX:XI, an album fundamentally inspired by the Book of Revelation, with even the writing of its lyrics being attributed to some sort of “help” by St. John the Apostle. Moreover, Tsar Bomb managed to merge in a very technical and aggressive way the esoteric side of the biblical scriptures with their belligerent and occultist vision of the world, offering the listener a wide spectrum of blasphemy, havoc and desperation.

Exterminans IX:XI begins with a nightmare-ish Intro where the smooth piano notes by guest musician Carmen Robles Jimenez bring some peace to our hearts amidst the song’s sheer ravage, before Ad Maiorem Legio Gloriam (“the greater glory of law”) comes bursting a brutal onslaught of Black, Death and Blackened Death Metal for our total delight. In addition, the band’s intricate instrumental artillery provides lead singer Ocram the perfect environment for his demonic growls, and although all drums are programmed, the music sounds very organic and alive at all times, which will make you simply forget about that minor detail.

The title-track, Exterminans IX:XI, is more than “just” a song about Abaddon, also known as the Destroyer or the Angel of the Abyss as portrayed in the Holy Bible (Revelation 9:11), it’s an even more vicious and intense tune, where six-string master Ivan does a superb job with his piercing guitar riffs enhancing its dark atmosphere and apocalyptic vibe; followed by Septem Tonitrua (“seven thunders”), an expression that also appears in the Holy Bible (Revelation 10:4), and obviously in the song’s lyrics (“Seven thunders burst, the angel has spoken / Under the oath, resounding horns / The Book of Initiation devoured by Leviathan / Inexorable storm, storm of ashes and fire.”). Their barbaric demolition goes on with another feast of blast beats, complex guitar lines and harsh growls boosted by some special voice effects similar to what Dimmu Borgir and other extreme bands usually do. Put differently, this killing tune will auspiciously dilacerate your mind before reaching its climatic and desolate ending.

In Armada (Mari Bestiam), which refers to the Spanish Armada of 1588, Tsar Bomb translated the monstrous power of the armada into a dark and robust tune, with highlights to the hints of progressiveness and modernity added to this technical Extreme Metal composition by Ocram and Ivan; while Caustic Blessing is a high-speed violent chant where yet again drums do not feel like they’re programmed at all. Can a human drummer replicate this sonority live? Anyway, this is a very good example of how amazing the band sounds no matter if they add symphonic or progressive elements to their music or if they’re as raw and direct as possible like in this case.

TSAR BOMB band photo (1)In the excellent …And Spill thy Fire Upon the Earth, prepare your neck for a lot of pain from headbanging because Tsar Bomb sound like a wild beast attacking you directly in the jugular, offering a multi-layered infernal Black Metal exhibit where vocals by Ocram get even more diabolical and in sync with its scalding lyrics (“The reign of chaos spits its fire / With hall and blood scorching the life / With flaming soil the waters died / And Spill Thy Fire Upon The Earth!!”). And finally, Mikaheylel reminds me a lot of the sonority found in The Satanist, by Behemoth, especially the blasphemous aura surrounding the music. You can feel hatred and despair emanating from its riffs, which ends up being frightful but mesmerizing at the same time, reinforcing this extremely well-crafted chant that perfectly represents what Blackened Death Metal is all about. There’s still time for a disturbing Outro to close this marvelous album, with the piano by Carmen returning in a very melancholic pattern, turning it into the soundtrack to a desolated war field after the detonation of a deadly nuclear weapon.

In case the sonic detonation ignited by Tsar Bomb helped release your inner demons, you can find more about their work on their official Facebook page and SoundCloud, and also find Exterminans IX:XI for sale at their BandCamp page or at the Cimmerian Shade Recordings’ BandCamp page. There’s an interesting excerpt from the Bible, Revelation 9:2, which states that “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” Replace the smoke of the pit with the disturbing Blackened Death Metal by Tsar Bomb, and there you have a suitable depiction of how vile this Spanish duo can be.

Best moments of the album: Ad Maiorem Legio Gloriam, Exterminans IX:XI, Armada (Mari Bestiam) and Mikaheylel.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Cimmerian Shade Recordings

Track listing
1. Intro 3:01
2. Ad Maiorem Legio Gloriam 5:13
3. Exterminans IX:XI 4:58
4. Septem Tonitrua 6:19
5. Armada (Mari Bestiam) 5:01
6. Caustic Blessing 3:07
7. …And Spill thy Fire Upon the Earth 4:14
8. Mikaheylel 5:43
9. Outro 2:58

Band members
Ocram – vocals, drum programming
Ivan – guitars, bass, drum programming

Guest musician
Carmen Robles Jimenez – synth, piano

Metal Chick of the Month – Ailyn Giménez

ailyn01

Come sleep with me, I’ll set you free…

The name Pilar Giménez García might not make a lot of sense to you, especially if you’re not a fan of Symphonic/Gothic Metal. It might even sound like a name extracted from a Mexican “telenovela” for some people. However, when I say the stage name of our metal chick this month, you’ll probably connect to her and, of course, to her beautiful voice: please welcome the stunning Spanish singer Ailyn Giménez, or simply Ailyn.

Ailyn was born on May 29, 1982 in Esplugues de Llobregat, in Barcelona, Spain, a place so close to the Camp Nou stadium that many famous players such as Piqué and Iniesta reside there. She is the current female vocalist of Norwegian Symphonic Gothic Metal band Sirenia, and her story prior to becoming a professional lead singer for a Heavy Metal band is quite unique in comparison to many other female singers from both metal or non-metal bands.

However, before we talk about her path to stardom, let’s first focus on her beginnings, in other words when Ailyn was “just” Pilar and started her career in the world of music. Our Catalan diva started singing in school when she was around 11 or 12 years old, when her music teacher inspired her to sing by playing her the song Hero by Mariah Carey. Ailyn immediately fell in love with the song and Mariah’s voice, and from that day on she started trying to sing like her, something easy to notice in the pop/romantic songs Tu Voz Se Apagará and Una Flor En La Tempestad. As hard as it’s to believe, this blonde girl shaking her booty is our Ailyn!

Then at the age of 15 she started her musical career, studying solfege and classical singing at The Albéniz School of Music, with her professional debut taking place in 2002 in Cornellà de Llobregat, also in Barcelona, Spain, in an annual benefit fashion show the city held to raise money for Alzheimer’s sufferers. As weird as it might sound, her first music contract was as part of an Anime/J-Pop/J-Rock group named Charm, with whom she released an album entitled Konnichiwa, in 2003, before parting ways with the group and starting to invest in her solo career in 2004.

Things started to get really interesting for her in 2007, when she was chosen as one of the members of the “young team” in the Spanish version of X Factor, where in the four episodes she participated before being eliminated she sang Pop/Rock classics such as Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life, among others. Almost at the same time, her sister was looking for metal bands to add them as friends on the once useful MySpace, and that’s when she got to know Sirenia. They really enjoyed the dark and heavy music played by Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and composer Morten Veland and his crew, and as if by magic, a month later the band sent Ailyn an email asking her if she wanted to audition because they needed a new singer. Check her performances in songs such as The End of It All and Lithium (her cover version for one of Evanescence’s most famous songs), and you’ll understand why she was called to be the smooth female voice of Sirenia.

In the beginning of 2008, our Spanish beauty headed to the wonderful country of Norway for a couple of auditions with Sirenia, before being selected as their new female singer in April 2008. Since then, Ailyn has recorded four full-length albums with Sirenia: The 13th Floor (2009), The Enigma of Life (2011), Perils of the Deep Blue (2013), and earlier this year the excellent The Seventh Life Path, as well as the singles The Path to Decay (2008), The End of It All (2010) and Seven Widows Weep (2013), and of course started touring around the world with the band. Moreover, it was during one of her first tours with Sirenia that she had the most memorable show of her life, at the always awesome festival Masters Of Rock, in 2008. According to Ailyn herself it was not because of her performance (as she was very nervous): she mentioned this specific concert was special because it was her first big show with Sirenia, and because she was able to enjoy all the energy and grandiosity of the festival.

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Besides her career with Sirenia, Ailyn sang the song Needle Bites from the album Rejected Gods (2014), by Greek Symphonic Metal band Enemy of Reality, recorded additional vocals on the song Furia de Libertad from the album Argia (2014), by Spanish Symphonic Power/Gothic Metal band Diabulus in Musica, and female vocals on the songs The Chevalier and Prayer from the album Death & Legacy (2011), by Austrian Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Serenity. In addition, she performed live with German/Norwegian Symphonic Metal band Leaves’ Eyes at their 10th anniversary show in Wieze, Belgium in 2014., and she is also scheduled to take part on the Metal Opera album The Great Lie by Melted Space in October this year.

However, maybe none of her accomplishments as a metal singer would have been possible without the influence of Dutch Symphonic Metal band Within Temptation in her life. It’s not that she has ever been part of the band or anything like that, but it’s known that all her passion for heavy music started one day while she was watching TV and they played a video from Within Temptation, letting Ailyn eager for more of their music and of the music by any other band with a similar sonority. Of course, that led to Within Tempation’s lead singer Sharon Den Adel being one of her biggest idols in music, among other names such as Jared Leto (30 Seconds To Mars), Josh Groban and Sarah Brightman. Moreover, when asked about which artists she would like to sing with, our metal babe said she would love to perform a duet with  Roy Khan (ex-Kamelot), an amazing choice in my opinion.

Obviously, just as any other regular person in the world, Ailyn has her personal hobbies, including some very relaxing activities such as reading, drawing and sewing, especially sewing her stage clothes for her live performances with Sirenia, and of course she truly loves listening to music. Another interesting fact about Ailyn is that she has a condition called heterochromia iridis, meaning she has two different eye colours, one eye (right) is brown and the other eye (left) is green, which in my opinion only makes her even more attractive. And on a final note, one might ask how a Spanish woman named Pilar Giménez García ended up being called “Ailyn”, a Chinese name, and the answer to that is quite simple: not only she has always been attracted to the Asian culture, but mainly because Ailyn means “true love”. Do I need to say anything else?

Ailyn’s Official Facebook page
Sirenia’s Official Facebook Page

“Since I was a kid I dreamt about being in the music world, and as I grew up I dreamt about being part of a band, so I think my dreams have been accomplished. Of course I’ve got many dreams, but only time will tell if they become true or not.” – Ailyn Giménez

Album Review – Alienchrist / Exolution EP (2015)

Get ready to have your body and soul abducted by an alien onslaught of Extreme Metal.

Rating5

Front CoverIt doesn’t matter if you believe in extraterrestrial life or not: as long as you believe in Spanish/Portuguese Exocore band Alienchrist and their brand new EP entitled Exolution, your life will be spared. Well, at least in terms of an alien abduction, because if there’s one thing you will suffer for sure are the effects of this Seville-based project’s brutal sonic storm full of deep growls, unorthodox tempos and bizarre riffs. Or as metalheads would say in Portuguese about the music by Alienchirst, “É PESADO PRA CARALHO!”

Formed in 2014 by Portuguese musician Mario Rocha and inspired by names like Carnifex, Whitechapel and Meshuggah, Alienchirst have already played at various events such as the Alburock Open Air in Murcia, Spain, sharing the stage with Even When Dead, Bloodyard, Resurrection, The Fall Of Atlantis, among many others. It’s important to mention that except for Alienchrist’s architect Mario Rocha, all other members are handpicked to tour or to play live gigs, which means this cannot be considered a band per se. Nothing that will stop Alienchrist from invading and conquering your city with their unearthly extreme sounding, though.

In case you have no idea what Exocore is, think of it as the coalition of Death Metal and Metalcore, also known as Deathcore, but with a kind of primeval exoskeleton (or “external shell”) to make it even more rigid and resistant. With that said, you can get a sense of how heavy and organic it sounds, which is exactly what you’ll find in the opening track, Zimabu Eter, featuring Bryan Long from American Deathcore band Dealey Plaza. Inspired by the movie The Fourth Kind, the whole song is a brutal assault of Death Metal riffs and blast beats, led by the deepest guttural growls you can think of. In summary, if an alien invasion or abduction has by any chance this song as the soundtrack, we’re totally doomed.

alienchristSignals continues delivering savagery, with its eerie intro suddenly turning into modern and violent metal. It will break your fuckin’ neck with its badass riff, plus some special keyboard effects in the background that end up establishing an interesting and ominous atmosphere. The next track of the EP, All Seeing Eye, is Death Metal to the second power: it’s like an “alien” version of Deicide with a monster on vocals, and obviously you have to master the art of guttural singing to understand whatever Mario Rocha is screaming.

The Mind Of The Psychopath showcases low-end bass lines and hardcore riffs, adding a lot of brutality to it, as well as ghoulish long-lasting growls by Mario Rocha. What a massacre! Finally, as a bonus to the listener, Exolution has a Dubstep remix for Zimabu Eter, and even if you hate electronic music you must admit this remix is pretty cool, capturing all the main elements from the original version.

You can take a listen at Exolution in its entirety on YouTube and also listen to it and purchase it at Alienchrist’s BandCamp page. As previously mentioned, if one day the human race faces an extraterrestrial invasion (as many people are eagerly expecting), let’s hope for it to be orchestrated by Alienchrist and their ruthless onslaught of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Zimabu Eter.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Zimabu Eter (feat. Bryan Long) 3:39
2. Signals 3:48
3. All Seeing Eye 3:52
4. The Mind Of The Psychopath 3:34
5. Zimabu Eter (Dubsteb Remix) 2:58

Band members
Mister V (Mario Rocha) – vocals
Mister W – guitar
Mister X – guitar
Mister Y – bass
Mister Z – drums

Guest musician
Bryan Long – additional vocals on “Zimabu Eter”

Album Review – Kilmara / Love Songs and Other Nightmares (2014)

An exciting Power Metal “gemstone”, full of heavy riffs, melody and all other elements we love in this type of music, nicely carved by this very competent band from Barcelona.

Rating4

kilmara_coverFor most of us, the word “kilmara” might mean only a semi-precious green stone (also known as jade) used for jewelry, but it has also become a synonym of high-quality Heavy Metal, especially in the past decade. After over 10 years of existence, Melodic Power Metallers from Spain and Germany Kilmara are releasing their third full-length album, Love Songs and Other Nightmares, another “gemstone” carefully polished and ready to shine in their discography.

Let me start by saying that the new album by this Barcelona-based band was produced by none other than the exceptional Roland Grapow (Helloween, Masterplan) at Grapow Studios in Slovakia and published by Sony Music, and by that you can already have an idea of the professionalism you’ll find in each and every track from Love Songs and Other Nightmares. Only talent itself doesn’t bring any good results if not accompanied by a huge amount of dedication and hard work, and Kilmara are a great example of how putting those elements together translates into amusing and captivating music.

From the very first heavier-than-usual riffs of the opening track, Fantasy, Kilmara showcase a modern Power Metal, focusing on smoother and clearer vocal lines (very well done by singer Christian Wolfgang Kohl) instead of traditional high-pitched screams from other bands of the same genre. Not only this song has an awesome chorus, but the addition of some harsh vocals makes everything even more entertaining. Quick question: would Fantasy (or maybe Fantasy’s) be a gentlemen’s club in Spain or somewhere else? At least that’s what the lyrics seem to be talking about.

The galloping rhythm, conducted mainly by Javi Morillo’s excellent work on drums, and the soulful guitar solos keep the energy level up in The Devil’s Eye, followed by the soaring intro and thrilling riffs of The Break Up, another top moment of the album, with lyrics about ending a relationship. By the way, this song would be an awesome way to do so (or at least the break up would happen with an exciting soundtrack). Cold Rain sounds like a sequence to the previous track in terms of lyrics, with highlights to the way the band “prepares” the listener for the catchy chorus.

kilmaraThen Kilmara slow things down with Believe, a semi-ballad with nice instrumental, but not as exciting as the previous tracks, before accelerating everything again with Nothing to Me, a heavy tune with hints of Thrash Metal the likes of Anthrax, with its riffs and double bass dictating the rhythm plus some great lyrics to sing along (“There’s nothing you can say / There’s nothing you can do / There’s nothing that can take away / The damage that you do”). A more traditional Power Metal can be found in Usual Strangers, especially due to its good guitar duo and solos, while Alpha is more melodic, flirting with Symphonic Power Metal. And pay attention to its funny/sexist lyrics, you might see yourself in that situation one day (or maybe many times a week).

And at long last, Kilmara saved for the final part of Love Songs and Other Nightmares three completely different tracks for all types of fans: Insomnia is another good Power Metal track with some interesting lyrics; Play to Win focuses on a more Hard Rock sonority, with its excellent instrumental parts mixed with another good vocal performance by Christian; and finally we have the beautiful ballad Time Flies, with  its powerful chorus as the “main ingredient”. There’s also a German/Spanish version of this song as a bonus track that sounds even more emotive than the regular one, especially the awesome Spanish parts. I myself speak Spanish and, in my humble opinion, I would love to see more Spanish songs by Kilmara: they sound so amazingly powerful when singing in this language.

I guess I could not finish this review without mentioning how gorgeous the “cover girl”, created by Montreal’s own Jessica Allain, in Love Songs and Other Nightmares is. Is she even real? Anyway, this excellent Power Metal album is available at Amazon and iTunes, among other places online and at physical stores, so if you’re a true fan of Power Metal don’t waste your time and go grab this “gemstone” by Kilmara for your collection.

Best moments of the album: Fantasy, The Break Up and Nothing to Me.

Worst moments of the album: Believe and Alpha.

Released in 2014 Sony Music

Track listing
1. Fantasy 4:41
2. The Devil’s Eye 4:20
3. The Break Up 3:59
4. Cold Rain 6:01
5. Believe 4:31
6. Nothing to Me 4:01
7. Usual Strangers 4:51
8. Alpha 4:04
9. Insomnia 4:47
10. Play to Win 5:59
11. Time Flies 6:19

Bonus track
12. Time Flies (German/Spanish version) 6:19

Band members
Christian Wolfgang Kohl – vocals
Jonathan Portilo – guitar
Kike Torres – guitar
Raúl Ruiz – bass
Javi Morillo – drums