Concert Review – Amon Amarth (Rebel, Toronto, ON, 10/09/2019)

A night of epic battles, endless circle pits and heavy-as-hell anthems offered by a horde of Swedish bands to all of us “Vikings” in Toronto, spearheaded by one of the biggest names of the current metal scene.

OPENING ACTS: Grand Magus, At The Gates and Arch Enemy

What a fun night, my fellow Vikings! The Swedish invasion that took the city of Toronto by storm last night at Rebel was beyond entertaining, and I can’t find the right words to describe the heaviness and power from all four bands of the night, Grand Magus, At The Gates, Arch Enemy and the almighty Amon Amarth (all hailing from Sweden, of course). There was a lot of beer drinking, endless mosh pits, lots of screaming, horns in the air, the encounter (although playing at different times with their respective bands) of the talented “Erlandsson Brothers” Adrian and Daniel, and a humongous dosage of our good old Heavy Metal.

The first band of the night was Stockholm-based Heavy/Doom Metal power trio GRAND MAGUS, which I confess I didn’t know much before last night. And let me tell you they kick some serious ass with their fusion of classic doom with Nordic themes, setting the stage on fire with their crisp and thunderous performance. Currently promoting their new album Wolf God, the band comprised of vocalist and guitarist JB Christoffersson, bassist Fox Skinner and drummer Ludwig Witt thanked all fans that were able to arrive early at Rebel to witness their fantastic concert, with their closing song, the battle hymn entitled Hammer of the North, being the icing on the cake to their flawless performance. I hope they return to Toronto soon for another killer concert, and if I were you I would search for their music right now on Spotify or on YouTube as it’s definitely worth it.

Setlist
I, the Jury
Dawn of Fire
Like the Oar Strikes the Water
Iron Will
Hammer of the North

Band members
JB Christoffersson – vocals, guitar
Fox Skinner – bass
Ludwig Witt – drums 

After a very short break it was time for Gothenburg’s own Melodic Death Metal institution AT THE GATES to bring to Toronto all their rage and darkness, inspiring the fans that were already filling up all the spaces at the venue to ignite some serious circle pits. Also, although the band has recently released two EP’s named The Mirror Black and With the Pantheons Blind, it felt like they “ignored” that and kept playing the same setlist used during their tour to promote their 2018 album To Drink from the Night Itself, with songs such as To Drink From the Night Itself and The Colours of the Beast being among my favorite ones of their solid performance. Needless to say, Tomas Lindberg was amazing with his harsh, desperate vocals throughout the entire concert, as well as Adrian Erlandsson, who was perhaps trying to “set the tone” for his brother Daniel with Arch Enemy right after that. A great warm-up concert as usual, and a great band for anyone who loves violence and mosh pits from the bottom of their blackened hearts.

Setlist
Der Widerstand
To Drink From the Night Itself
Slaughter of the Soul
At War With Reality
The Colours of the Beast
Cold
Heroes and Tombs
El Altar del Dios Desconocido
Death and the Labyrinth
Blinded by Fear
The Night Eternal

Band members
Tomas Lindberg – vocals
Martin Larsson – guitars
Jonas Stålhammar – guitars
Jonas Björler – bass
Adrian Erlandsson – drums

The venue was already packed when the one and only ARCH ENEMY hit the stage and began their high-octane, incendiary concert, and within a few seconds the entire floor section was already turned into a massive circle pit for our total delight. The multi-talented frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz was absolutely brutal and unstoppable, reminding us all she was the only Canadian in this tour and, consequently, asking us all to show those Swedish guys how awesome Canadian metallers are. Their setlist was quite solid for the time they had available, mixing a few songs from their latest album Will to Power, released in 2017, with some of their older classics. Also, I guess I don’t need to say how brilliant both Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis were with their axes, right? And if you were there last night, I bet you know what the words Ravenous and Nemesis mean to your neck, elbows and throat.

Setlist
Set Flame to the Night
The World Is Yours
War Eternal
My Apocalypse
Ravenous
The Eagle Flies Alone
First Day in Hell
Saturnine
As the Pages Burn
Nemesis
Enter the Machine

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

AMON AMARTH

After all those insanely heavy and electrifying bands warmed us up really well on a not-so-cold Torontonian night, we were more than ready to join the berserkers from AMON AMARTH on their musical journey to Valhalla, and that journey was perfect from start to finish, no doubt about that. Playing a good chunk of songs form their 2019 opus Berserker, which by the way worked really well live as the whole album kicks ass, such as Raven’s Flight, Crack the Sky, Fafner’s Gold and one of my favorites of the night, the battle hymn Shield Wall, the Swedish horde spearheaded by Johan Hegg showed us everything they got, including a Viking ship, a Viking battle, a demonic entity that looked like a skeleton version of Loki, and their traditional beer drinking horn during the party anthem Raise Your Horns.

Not sure if you noticed what I’m about to say, but all my photos of the concert are really bad, and that’s solely because it was impossible to stand still and try to take any decent pictures in the floor section due to the never-ending, gigantic and brutal circle pits happening. There was a bit of everything into the pit, from giant Viking guys to tiny (but still violent) Chinese girls, proving how big Amon Amarth are getting and how their theatrical performance combined with their powerful music is attracting more and more people to their concerts. And what can I say about what the fans did during a good part of their all-time classic Twilight of the Thunder God? I would say more than half of the floor section simply sat down on the floor and started rowing all together, as if they were true Vikings on a Viking ship sailing towards battle! That was a memorable and extremely fun moment of the night (and I don’t recall seeing that happen anywhere else, unless it’s a new thing during Amon Amarth concerts that I’m not aware of), and something that only proves how strong the band has become since their inception.

The entire band was more than happy with the reception they got from us here in Toronto, smiling back to us and banging their heads nonstop, and only stopping all that devastation to say THANK YOU, TORONTO! a thousand times. If that wasn’t a statement that they’re coming back to our city again and again, and every single time with a bigger and better concert, I don’t know what would be. Would Amon Amarth be the next “metal giant” after dinosaurs like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica and Slayer call it quits? Will those classic bands pass the torch to our beloved Swedish Vikings? Well, only time will tell, but based on the quality of their discography and, above all, the high energy and epicness of their live performances, they more than deserve that place among the metal gods. All hail Amon Amarth, and may Toronto witness their epic, heavy-as-hell metal hymns and onstage battles countless more times in the coming decades!

Setlist
Raven’s Flight
Runes to My Memory
Deceiver of the Gods
First Kill
Fafner’s Gold
Crack the Sky
The Way of Vikings
Shield Wall
Guardians of Asgaard
Raise Your Horns
The Pursuit of Vikings
Twilight of the Thunder God

Band members
Johan Hegg – vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Ted Lundström – bass guitar
Jocke Wallgren – drums

Album Review – Spiral Skies / Blues For A Dying Planet (2018)

Get ready to be put in a trance and to be taken on a unique musical journey by a psychedelic Swedish band and their “rock from another planet”.

With influences ranging over decades, Swedish Occult Rock band Spiral Skies has created a sound that can most easily be described as “rock from another planet”, a unique blend of folk, doom and 70’s-inspired rock music the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Curved Air and The Devil’s Blood, all embraced by a unique visual performance at their intense and enchanting live shows. After their debut EP A Queendom to Come, released in 2015, it’s time for Spiral Skies to further spread their sorcery with their brand new album beautifully titled Blues For A Dying Planet, an ode to the past that’s at the same time always looking into the future.

Formed in 2014 in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Spiral Skies are the talented Frida on vocals, Jonas and Dan on the guitars, Eric on bass and Daniel on drums, each one with a different musical background and distinct influences, but all sharing the same passion for 70´s genuine rock and metal music. In Blues For A Dying Planet, which features a classy cover illustration by Vadim Karasyov, cover and booklet design by Atmanoid, and cover photo by Björn Pettersson, the band brings forth an amalgamation of styles with a strong Psychedelic Doom Metal and Rock core essence, putting you in a trance and taking you to the golden years of rock, always spearheaded by the mesmerizing vocals by Frida.

An organ and the sound of the wind in the intro Black Hole Waltz ignite the feast of Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal named Awakening, with Jonas and Dan dictating the rhythm with their Iron Madein-ish riffs while Frida gives a lesson in passion and energy with her flamboyant vocals. Put differently, this rockin’ hymn has an old school Heavy Metal vibe that, when blended with its core Doom Metal essence, makes things even more captivating. Following such powerful start we have Dark Side of the Cross, a very good song to dance under the stars that leans towards the classic Doom Metal by Black Sabbath with a more whimsical Rock N’ Roll aura, also showcasing a great job done by Daniel with his intricate beats; and The Wizard’s Ball, where Frida keeps delivering sheer awesomeness through her charming and potent vocals, with the rest of the band keeping the music at a very pleasant and gripping pace, flowing smoothly until its climatic ending. Then it’s time to dance with Frida and the boys in Danse Macabre, a classic Hard Rock song with tons of psychedelic elements from Doom Metal added to its beautiful sonority, with Jonas and Dan blasting straightforward, old school guitar riffs that effectively help embellish the ambience.

Labyrinth of the Mind is perhaps the most Black Sabbath of all tracks, with a great balance between the heaviness of the guitar riffs and the gentle voice by Frida, resulting in a hypnotizing musicality perfect for closing your eyes and letting the band take you on a one-of-a-kind musical journey. In Shattered Hopes we’re treated to a hybrid between pure Psychedelic Rock and more contemporary Doom Metal and Hard Rock, uniting past and present through the riffs by the band’s guitar duo and the always fiery vocals by Frida; whereas the poetically-titled tune Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind has its name translated into classic Rock N’ Roll with tons of psychedelia added to its mesmerizing waves. Furthermore, Eric with his solid bass lines and Daniel with his fierce beats create the perfect background for Frida to shine once again on vocals. And lastly, their feast of classy and gripping sounds is majestically concluded with the lesson in Psychedelic Rock and Metal named The Prisoner, a full-bodied voyage led by the heavy and very melodic guitars by both Jonas and Dan.

The enchanting voice by Frida and her Spiral Skies can be better appreciated through the band’s Facebook page and Spotify, and if you want to buy a copy of Blues For A Dying Planet and consequently have all that’s needed to prance around the fire pit under a moonlit sky, you can find the album on sale at the AOP Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, at the Nuclear Blast webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. Although the 70’s might be long gone and everything is now just a distant memory, the music by bands like Spiral Skies is what keeps the spirit and passion of that golden decade burning bright inside our souls.

Best moments of the album: Awakening, Danse Macabre and The Prisoner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 AOP Records

Track listing
1. Black Hole Waltz 1:25
2. Awakening 3:31
3. Dark Side of the Cross 4:04
4. The Wizard’s Ball 5:36
5. Danse Macabre 4:18
6. Labyrinth of the Mind 5:42
7. Shattered Hopes 3:18
8. Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind 4:38
9. The Prisoner 6:02

Band members
Frida – vocals
Jonas – guitars
Dan – guitars
Eric – bass
Daniel – drums

Album Review – Amon Amarth / Jomsviking (2016)

Despite its interesting concept and excellent production, Jomsviking never truly takes off, offering the same old, same old fighting chants we’ve seen countless times before.

Rating6

amon amarth_jomsviking“The Jomsvikings and their world is the background for the story of a young man that is in love with a girl but unfortunately she’s being married off. He accidentally kills a man when this happens and he has to flee — but he swears to have revenge and win her back. He can’t let go of the past. He feels that he’s been wronged and his life has been destroyed. The way the story evolves is not a happy story.”, said frontman Johan Hegg in an interview to Blabbermouth about Jomsviking, the tenth studio album by Swedish Melodic Death Metal band Amon Amarth, and also the first concept album in their solid career. However, despite being quite an innovative idea, it didn’t thrill me at any single moment during the entire album, a huge letdown taken into account the high expectations I had when I first heard our talented Viking warriors were recording a concept album.

The Jomsvikings might have been a semi-legendary order of Viking brigands of the 10th and 11th centuries, but all we get in the album is the same old Amon Amarth with some slight changes in their musicality and nothing truly remarkable about those infamous mercenaries. For instance, their excellent 2011 release Surtur Rising tells a lot more about the mythical giant Surtr than Jomsviking tells about the Jomsvikings, and it’s not even close to being a concept album. At least the artwork, once again designed by Tom Thiel, keeps up with their previous releases, but musically speaking Jomsviking doesn’t bring anything fresh to the listener. It doesn’t harm the band’s career either, but it leaves that annoying sensation you feel when it’s more than obvious that a band like Amon Amarth can do a lot better than that.

Johan’s voice sounds really odd in the first few lines in First Kill, but fortunately that doesn’t last long and he gets back to his regular “Viking mode” after a few seconds. Although the song itself sounds traditional Amon Amarth at first, you can feel it’s a bit more melodic than usual, mainly due to the great job done by guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg. And can the intro in the exciting Wanderer be considered “Viking Heavy Metal/Hard Rock”? Anyway, I like what I hear even the song not being played at full speed like many of their classics. It’s groovy and dark Melodic Death Metal made in Scandinavia with a beautiful melody in the background, a powerful chorus and tons of melancholy, turning it into one of the best songs of the album. On a Sea of Blood, which brings forward some welcome elements of Power and Heavy Metal, was born to be an Amon Amarth classic, with session drummer Tobias Gustafsson doing an excellent job in keeping the energy flowing smoothly during the entire song. While listening to this tune, all you’ll think of is grabbing your sword and shield and heading to the battlefield, no doubt about that.

One Against All keeps the violence at a high level, being extremely melodic at all times thanks to the guitar lines by both Olavi and Johan Söderberg, and despite offering nothing new musically speaking I guess not a single fan of the band will complain about it. And who doesn’t enjoy a song about drinking beer? That’s what you get in Raise Your Horns and its cliché but fun lyrics (“So pour the beer for thirsty men / A drink that they have earned / And pour a beer for those who fell / For those who did not return”). The music itself is quite lame, but again this is Amon Amarth, not a Progressive Metal band, which means fans will enjoy singing it along with Johan during the band’s live concerts. One might ask why I said bad things about the album in the beginning of this review, but so far I’ve made many positive comments about the songs presented until this part of the album. Well, that’s the main issue with Jomsviking: I’m not really sure how all songs are connected to the album concept, as they all sound regular songs to me with the word “Jomsviking” randomly added here and there. This is also the case in The Way of Vikings, sounding the same song Amon Amarth have recorded a billion times already, a below average chant with a strong “been there, done that” feeling.

amon amarthAfter a boring intro, At Dawn’s First Light gets to a decent melodic ambience that albeit generic ends up working well with the lyrics, but again don’t expect to find anything fresh in its musicality (except for the blood of your enemies, of course); followed by One Thousand Burning Arrows, by far the most boring track of all. I’m not kidding, after less than two minutes my attention turned to something else deu to the lack of anything interesting in it, a song filled with uninspired beats, riffs and vocals with absolutely nothing special, failing miserably in the end. At least Vengeance Is My Name puts the band back on track, translating the bloodshed of a battle into words (“The next man over reaches / And so he winds up dead / One cut is all that’s needed / I removed his head”), with the music also following the same level of violence.

Then we have the good A Dream That Cannot Be, featuring one of the greatest metal divas of all time, the unstoppable German amazon Doro Pesch. She kicks some serious ass together with Amon Amarth, bringing a breath of fresh air to their sometimes tiring music. Maybe they should have more female guests in their future releases, who knows? Anyhow, closing Jomsviking we have Back on Northern Shores, and I honestly don’t understand why Amon Amarth insist with long “epic” songs to conclude their albums as it never works as expected. Its riffs and rhythm are somewhat decent but way too repetitive for seven minutes, and again I turned my thoughts to something else after a short while. Next time they craft a lengthy chant, I hope they at least add some breaks, variations and additional layers to the sounding, otherwise I won’t even bother listening to it until the end.

To sum up, I’m sure a considerable part of the longtime fans of Amon Amarth all around the world will enjoy Jomsviking, saying it’s a great album and many other positive things about it, but as I said before it lacks a lot of power if compared to its predecessors and, a lot worse than that, it doesn’t say anything truly remarkable or worth about the Jomsvikings. Although the album has its moments and can entertain you for a few spins, I’m more than sure you’ll get really tired of it after a few weeks even with the new elements added to the music. And if they ever decide to write a concept album again in their career, may that be a true concept album and not just a bunch of same old, same old generic fighting chants they have done so many times before.

Best moments of the album: Wanderer, On a Sea of Blood and A Dream That Cannot Be.

Worst moments of the album: The Way of Vikings, One Thousand Burning Arrows and Back on Northern Shores.

Released in 2016 Metal Blade

Track listing
1. First Kill 4:21
2. Wanderer 4:42
3. On a Sea of Blood 4:04
4. One Against All 3:37
5. Raise Your Horns 4:23
6. The Way of Vikings 5:11
7. At Dawn’s First Light 3:50
8. One Thousand Burning Arrows 5:49
9. Vengeance Is My Name 4:41
10. A Dream That Cannot Be (feat. Doro Pesch) 4:22
11. Back on Northern Shores 7:08

Band members
Johan Hegg – vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Ted Lundström – bass guitar
Jocke Wallgren – drums (live)

Guest musicians
Tobias Gustafsson – drums (studo recording)
Doro Pesch – guest vocals on “A Dream That Cannot Be”

Album Review – Dys Inbunden / One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (2015)

Come worship the Other Side to the sound of the new demonic opus by this extremely talented and sinful Swedish cult.

Rating3

One-with-morbidity-the-opus-misanthrop_OmslagCall it “Deaosophic Metal”, Progressive Black Metal or simply Black Metal. The music disseminated by Dys Inbunden, one of the most nihilistic death obsessed bands in the world, in their masterfully chaotic new album One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy, is going to hit you with an avalanche of depression, suicide, darkness and death beyond dispute. Even if you’re not a huge fan of extreme music, I strongly recommend you take a shot at this amazing album so intense it is.

Forged in the fires of Stockholm, Sweden in 2012 and after releasing their debut album (or their “first opus”, as the band refers to it) entitled Pandemonium Unchained in 2013, Dys Inbunden spent a dark period in 2014 recording their new opus with Honza Kapák at Hellsound Studio, in the Czech Republic. The result, as aforementioned, is awesomely professional and instigating, carving the band’s trademark on the global map of Extreme Metal. And now, after reading this quick intro about the hostile Dys Inbunden and their blasphemous creation One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy, I dare you to hit play if you have the guts.

Well, if you were tough enough to do it, you’ll already face One With Morbidity, one half of the album title, which starts as the intro to some sort of occult ceremony that goes on for a while before a sonic apocalypse begins. What an outstanding production, where you can clearly listen to each instrument while at the same time it’s fuckin’ dark and heavy as hell. Not only that, Mr. Gefandi Ör Andlät knows how to desecrate our minds with his blustering screams. The second half of the album title, Opus Misanthropy, presents hints of Symphonic Black Metal in a poignant atmosphere, where even the clean cultic vocals sound intimidating, not to mention the spot-on orchestrations by Magister Nocturnal, which are not too portentous but adequate to the band’s purpose.

If you’re still alive and sane, the symphonic and devilish track Odious Worship Of Annihilation will mercilessly invade your soul, with Gefandi Ör Andlät sharpening his vocals to an even deeper satanic level while the instrumental keeps dense and extremely well-crafted. There’s not a single second of hope for over seven minutes of music in this tune, one of my favorites of the entire album hands down. Mischievous Paths Of Nocturnal Lust, the longest track of the album, doesn’t disappoint, with the duo of darkness offering us another Black Metal raid with extra layers of insanity, rhythmic variations and progressive passages. Its vocals and riffs are of course fiendish, and I’m sure you’ll feel your brain detaching from your skull to the sound of this evil feast. Then we have Through Demise and Decay, with its powerful riffs and harsh screams being its main ingredients, as well as those sick blast beats the way we love in Black Metal and a “chorus” that seems to incite a demonic worship; and The Illuminating Gaze Of Lucifer, where its Doom Metal vibe blended with the battering ram from Black Metal generate an interesting outcome. Moreover, as the name of the song contains the word “Lucifer”, it’s quite obvious the prince of darkness must be honored to be the inspiration for it.

dys inbundenDraconigena, a word that means “dragon-born” or “someone or something born of a dragon”, showcases Dys Inbunden spitting fire through their music. This is a very progressive and extreme tune, with highlights to the superb guitar lines by Gefandi Ör Andlät and its venomous ambience, sounding like three or four different songs in a combination of complexity and bestiality, and I guess I don’t need to say how solid the final result is. And continuing with the innovative names, Larva Pazuzu is the union of the words “larvae”, which in Roman mythology means a malevolent spirit of the dead or “a terrifying mask”, and “Pazuzu”, which in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology was the king of the demons of the wind and son of the god Hanbi, also representing the southwestern wind, the bearer of storms and drought. The music itself couldn’t be more direct, an awesome massacre where both Gefandi Ör Andlät and Magister Nocturnal sound deeply infuriated (and whoever is playing the drums is a beast).

Just when you think they’re going to take a break amidst so many wicked tunes, they continue their path of destruction with Nihilist Pariah, a raw old school Black Metal tune tailored for diehard black metallers, boosted by the deluxe production of the album, followed by Crown Of Carcosa, another masterful display of extreme music where the nuances of darkness brought forth by its symphonic elements sound really interesting. And what starts as a song by Opeth or Dream Theather evolves to a deranged but very melodic carnage in He Who Worships Death, with highlights to its high-end drumming and the uproar caused by the demonic voice of Gefandi Ör Andlät. Lastly, we have the frenetic Dimension Of Nihility, as vile as it can be, with the flawless support provided by Magister Nocturnal allowing Gefandi Ör Andlät to add more experimentations and a stronger taste to the music, and nothing is more suitable to end this Black Metal rite than a melancholic piano outro, named Without Life And Movement.

To be fair, it’s extremely difficult to summarize this Stygian masterpiece in just a few lines, so I deeply recommend you go like their Facebook page and check their music on YouTube, as well as buy One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy at their official webstore, at the Liflätinn Productions webstore, on Amazon or at many other locations to really feel their music in your flesh. In other words, it’s time for us all to worship the Other Side to the sound of the new amazing opus by this talented and sinful Swedish cult.

Best moments of the album: Odious Worship Of Annihilation, Through Demise and Decay, Draconigena and Larva Pazuzu.

Worst moments of the album: Opus Misanthropy.

Released in 2015 Liflätinn Productions

Track listing
1. One With Morbidity 6:47
2. Opus Misanthropy 6:56
3. Odious Worship Of Annihilation 7:47
4. Mischievous Paths Of Nocturnal Lust 9:04
5. Through Demise and Decay 8:07
6. The Illuminating Gaze Of Lucifer 8:59
7. Draconigena 6:25
8. Larva Pazuzu 3:38
9. Nihilist Pariah 7:54
10. Crown Of Carcosa 5:35
11. He Who Worships Death 6:49
12. Dimension Of Nihility 6:07
13. Without Life And Movement 2:31

Band members
Gefandi Ör Andlät – vocals, lead guitar
Magister Nocturnal – bass, piano, orchestrations

Album Review – Unleashed / Dawn Of The Nine (2015)

Let the mighty God of Thunder bang his head to the sound of old school Death Metal while he mercilessly smashes his foes with his hammer.

Rating5

unleashed_dawn of the nineFormed in the “distant” year of 1989 in the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden, and still alive and kicking after almost three decades, the iconic Death Metal band Unleashed can credit their longevity and glory to their unique music concept, being the pioneers in implementing completely different themes from most Death Metal bands, such as Viking culture, Norse folklore and even references to the work by the renowned English writer and poet J. R. R. Tolkien, to their furious and coarse sounding.

In order to keep the almighty God of Thunder grinning and banging his head to the brutal sound of Death Metal while he smashes hordes of infidels with Mjölnir, Unleashed are releasing in 2015 their twelfth studio album, the good Dawn Of The Nine. Although the album does not flirt with Black Metal as much as its predecessor, the excellent Odalheim (2012), which means it lacks a little more darkness, it’s still a celebration of extreme music, war, vengeance and sacrilege that will satisfy the hunger of death metallers all over the world for more of the band’s Viking Death Metal.

Shifting between Viking Metal and more traditional Death Metal, the opening track A New Day Will Rise relies upon a strong atmospheric background and the aggressive vocals by Johnny Hedlund, while the other band members make sure the music stays visceral. It’s not the most creative songwriting in the world, but it’s still very cohesive, which is also valid for They Came to Die and its elements of Thrash Metal and Symphonic Black Metal, offering a more exciting headbanging tune. The guitar lines by Fredrik Folkare and Tomas Måsgard enrich the melody found in the music, and of course drummer Anders Schultz doesn’t seem “happy” and crushes whoever is in his path. The ominous intro already summarizes the darkness in Defenders of Midgard, a song about the will to keep fighting for our beliefs and our beloved ones (“But we will rise again / And fight, fight to defend / Our Midgard ’til the very end / Fight to defend / Our Midgard ’til the very end”). However, the music itself is boring, getting really repetitive after a while and consequently falling flat, despite the good guitar solo by Fredrik.

Fortunately, they finally unleash their infamous Death Metal in Where Is Your God Now?: its direct lyrics about being a true godless warrior (“Here we are alive again / In a battle without end / So we rise from the caves / And march until sol descends”) are very effective and the growls by Johnny are a lot more cutting. In other words, get ready for some sick circle pits to the sound of this evil mix of Death and Black Metal. And although Johnny sounds a little tired in The Bolt Thrower, it’s another good old school Death Metal tune, where the most curious detail is that I don’t know if they’re talking about the ancient missile weapon named “ballista” or if it’s a tribute to British Death Metal band Bolt Thrower. Well, Johnny sings “a master of war that feels no pain”, which makes me think it’s about the band. Or maybe it’s the weapon? What a tricky question.

unleashed_2015Let the Hammer Fly is a straightforward fast tune that might not be innovative but works pretty well, where its instrumental appropriately sticks to the basics of extreme music and its second half feels a lot darker, with highlights to another good guitar solo by Fredrik Folkare; while Where Churches Once Burned, with a stronger atmospheric background and Black Metal-ish riffs, sounds a lot more extreme and blasphemous thanks to the melodic guitar lines by Fredrik and the blast beats fired by Anders until the song evolves to a mournful ending. In Land of the Thousand Lakes, Johnny begins with some low-tuned bass lines before the song becomes barbaric, which translates into a fast and brutal assault of riffs and beats that will break your fuckin’ neck.

The pure Doom Metal title-track Dawn of the Nine doesn’t live up to its goal, proving Unleashed sound a lot more powerful when they play at high speed and more violently. The song gets slightly more interesting in some parts, sounding like old school Black Sabbath, but that’s not enough to salvage it. And last but not least, Welcome the Son of Thor! is another decent Viking Death Metal tune despite its uninspired lyrics, where the primeval bass lines by Johnny are really potent and therefore add more balance to the drumming by Anders.

Long story short, if this is your type of music and you are interested in Scandinavian culture and floklore, there are different versions of the album available at the Nuclear Blast webstore, Amazon, iTunes and other retailers. As aforementioned, Dawn Of The Nine will surely keep the Norse gods and demons well pleased and ready for more Unleashed in a near future.

Best moments of the album: They Came to Die, Where Is Your God Now? and Where Churches Once Burned.

Worst moments of the album: Defenders of Midgard and Dawn of the Nine.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. A New Day Will Rise 3:51
2. They Came to Die 3:13
3. Defenders of Midgard 4:37
4. Where Is Your God Now? 4:24
5. The Bolt Thrower 3:49
6. Let the Hammer Fly 4:10
7. Where Churches Once Burned 5:18
8. Land of the Thousand Lakes 4:15
9. Dawn of the Nine 6:41
10. Welcome the Son of Thor! 4:34

Band members
Johnny Hedlund – vocals, bass
Fredrik Folkare – lead guitar
Tomas Måsgard – rhythm guitar
Anders Schultz – drums

Album Review – Septekh / Plan for World Domination (2014)

These Swedish metallers show us all how to dominate the world with violent and creative heavy music.

Rating4

SEPTEKH - Plan for World Domination cover artFrom the obscure island of Mörkö, Sweden, comes a band that plans to dominate the world with an awesome mix of Thrash, Death and Black Metal, Rock N’ Roll, and even Blues in their musicality. After two EP’s, entitled The Seth Avalanche (2012) and Apollonian Eyes (2013), the latter with the outstanding song (and video) “Burn It To The Ground”, it’s time for Swedish Death/Thrash metallers Septekh to release their first full-length album, the excellent Plan for World Domination.

Formed in 2008 in Stockholm, those Swedish guys are not only very technical in what they do, but there’s an extra dose of dark humor that ends up adding a lot of value to the music they play. I think it’s more than obvious that without humor no one can blend the brutality of Slayer with Motörhead and Blues music, and sing about death and depravity, without sounding cheap. I mean, you have to be completely arrogant and out of your mind if you think you can do Thrash Metal better than Slayer, don’t you agree? Fortunately, that’s not the case with Septekh, and what they offer us in this album is beyond enjoyable and fun, starting by the brilliant album art, featuring the big horse (also known as “Playmate of the Year – The Hippocalyptic Messenger”) by Swedish artist Richard Damm.

When you see such an amazing front cover like this one, you automatically know the content inside is going to be good, which is exactly what happens as soon as the band starts blasting everything on their way with the opening track, Into The Void Of My Mind, a frantic crossover of Thrash Metal from the 80’s and Death Metal, with riffs and guitar solo the likes of Anthrax or Exodus. The following track of the album, Going Down In Style, is some kind of “Blues Metal”, with highlight to the bass lines and the rhythmic drumming by Patrik Ström and Staffan Persson respectively and its fun lyrics about selling your soul to the devil  (“I’m going down in style / I got better things to do than survive / I’m going down in style / See I’ll be burning up and I’ll do it with a smile”), turning it into the best song of all; while Saving Graces goes back to a more direct Thrash Metal with some nuances of Punk Rock. In addition, it should work really well if included in their live performances due to its high level of energy.

In Neanderthal, which sounds like the band’s “tribute” to the unique Rock N’ Roll by Motörhead, Septekh present a faster and rawer side of their music, while in Don Asshole the band offers a more modern sonority focusing on heaviness instead of speed, with David Wikström doing an awesome job on the guitars. Then we have Left Handed Man, a very melodic and exciting tune that truly elevates the quality of the album with excellent vocal lines by Nils GRZNLS Meseke blending perfectly with the riffs, and the dark sonority of Black Shores, with its heavy bass intro and a huge dose of melancholy.

SEPTEKH band photoThe Man Who Died A Million Times can be summarized as two minutes of pure violence, or maybe as “the perfect soundtrack for some insane circle pits and furious headbanging”, but things get even better with Superheated Liquid Iron Core, another intense track with superb drumming and riffs that sound so much like 80’s Thrash Metal I can even visualize this song being recorded by Anthrax with Joey Belladonna on vocals.

The last part of the album starts with Eyes Of The Grave, with riffs that remind me of the early days of Slayer plus some very interesting lyrics (“There is no light / There is no youth / There are no eyes but the eyes of the grave”), followed by the fuckin’ heavy song Fuck Dollar, probably the weirdest track of all, sounding almost like traditional Black Metal in the end. And lastly, we have more traditional Thrash Metal with powerful riffs in Desdaemonia, and the 11-minute “epic” title-track Plan For World Domination, with so many different elements it gets hard to label this song. Let’s just say it’s a brutal music voyage, and that you will enjoy it for sure.

If you got hooked by Septekh’s crazy sonority and want to know more about the band, the best thing you can do is purchasing Plan for World Domination (available on the official Abyss Records store or for digital download on iTunes), because supporting this very creative Swedish band will at the same time keep the fire of metal alive and, even more important than that, help them in their amazing “plan” for dominating the entire world with fuckin’ heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Going Down In Style, Left Handed Man and Superheated Liquid Iron Core.

Worst moments of the album: Black Shores and Fuck Dollar.

Released in 2014 Studio 508 Productions / Abyss Records

Track listing
1. Into The Void Of My Mind 3:50
2. Going Down In Style 4:29
3. Saving Graces 4:28
4. Neanderthal 2:27
5. Don Asshole 4:53
6. Left Handed Man 5:05
7. Black Shores 4:33
8. The Man Who Died A Million Times 2:07
9. Superheated Liquid Iron Core 3:12
10. Eyes Of The Grave 3:54
11. Fuck Dollar 5:39
12. Desdaemonia 4:39
13. Plan For World Domination 10:58

Band members
Nils GRZNLS Meseke – vocals
David Wikström – guitars
Patrik Ström – bass
Staffan Persson – drums