Album Review – OHHMS / The Fool (2017)

Spanning the course of 60 minutes and focusing on corporate and personal politics, the first full-length album by this British quintet is not only a huge step forward in their career, but also a lesson in Sludge and Progressive Metal.

Armed with the thickest riffs and fieriest will, Sludge/Progressive Metal act OHHMS was formed in 2014 in Kent, a county in South East England, aiming at blowing our minds with their monolithic, doomed music. After the release of their debut EP Bloom in 2014, followed by another EP title Cold in 2015, OHHMS started to build a strong reputation in their homeland’s underground scene, playing big festivals such as Desertfest and Temples, and also sharing the stage with acts like The Skull, Conan and Rolo Tomassi. Now, three years after their thunderous beginnings, the band is back with their debut full-length album, the heavy and sludgy The Fool, another step forward in their short but solid career.

Spanning the course of 60 minutes of hard-hitting, progressive music, The Fool delivers five thunderous songs that focus on corporate and personal politics, all wrapped up in an elegant tarot-inspired packaging designed by Black Sails Design. With two of its songs going over the barrier of 10 minutes (one of them having over 20 minutes in duration, by the way), something inconceivable for any regular radio station or TV show, The Fool won’t provide any sort of “music for the masses” to you, but an introspective and very peculiar journey through the minds of the five talented musicians behind OHHMS, and that’s in my opinion what makes this album so distinct and impactful.

The acoustic intro Shuffle, Cut and Reveal slowly introduces us to the sluggish and heavy The Magician,  which after a fast-paced beginning smoothly flows into traditional Stoner Metal, with Max Newton smashing his drum set while lead singer Paul Waller blasts sheer anguish through his vocals. The Hanged Man is a top-notch musical voyage, flowing from an ominous intro into 13 minutes of progressiveness, slow-paced passages and a somber ambience. Max adds endless intricacy to the music with his beats, while guitarists Daniel Sargent and Marc George alternate between heavier riffs and gentle lines, with the overall result being so compelling you won’t notice the length of the song at all. Even more progressive than its predecessor, The World is a song that combines in a potent way the heaviness of Stoner Metal with the experimentations of Progressive Metal, not to mention its hints of several other styles such as Industrial and Doom Metal, with Max and bassist Chainy Chainy building a more-than-thunderous atmosphere with their respective instruments.

The superb The Lovers is beautiful and thrilling from start to finish, with all instruments creating the perfect ambience for Paul and a mysterious (and wonderful) female voice to complement each other’s lines flawlessly. It’s a slow and serene ballad recommended for true lovers, or in other words, simply close your eyes and feel your significant other’s embrace while listening to this awesome composition. And as the icing on the cake OHHMS present to us The Hierophant, a bold, complex and mind-blowing 21-minute extravaganza, where the whole band is able to display all their skills as great musicians they are. After over two minutes of initial dissonant noises, Paul arrives with his somber vocals, and this eccentric atmosphere goes on until at around six minutes the rest of the band joins him, becoming a sonic experimentation through the realms of Sludge and Stoner Metal, with highlights to the bestial, crushing riffs by both Daniel and Marc (in special during the song’s final part).

One might say The Fool is not an album for the average listener, but in my humble opinion I think this album is a great opportunity for newcomers to the world of the lengthy and sluggish sounds of Stoner and Doom Metal to explore the uniqueness of this subgenre of heavy music. Well, newcomer or not, you should definitely go check what OHHMS are up to at their Facebook page and, if you’re already hooked on their music, purchase The Fool through their BandCamp page, at the Holy Roar Records’ webshop, on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs.

Best moments of the album: The World and The Lovers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Holy Roar Records

Track listing
1. Shuffle, Cut and Reveal 1:15
2. The Magician 8:10
3. The Hanged Man 13:24
4. The World 6:42
5. The Lovers 8:03
6. The Hierophant 21:49

Band members
Paul Waller – vocals
Daniel Sargent – guitars
Marc George – guitars
Chainy Chainy – bass
Max Newton – drums

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

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Album Review – Crossbones / WWIII (2017)

The most longstanding and influential metal act from Albania returns with a brand new opus, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities.

When vocalist Olsi Ballta grabbed an Albanian-English dictionary in 1996 and picked the first word on the page he randomly opened, he had no idea he would be founding the most recognized metal act in Albania and the only band from the mid 90’s that kept going. That’s how everything started for Tirana-based Heavy/Thrash Metal band Crossbones, the first Albanian rock band to have released a genuine full-length album on CD (their debut album called Days Of Rage, from 1997), who led them to play several concerts and festivals in the local scene, as well as within the region comprised of Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and Kosovo, and to perform alongside major names such as Ian Paice (Deep Purple’s legendary drummer) and Rotting Christ.

After the release of a few singles, demos, a live album, a compilation and a stylish box set in the following years, Crossbones are finally back with new material, the full-length record entitled WWIII, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities in order to provide the listener a full-bodied metal attack that effectively represents not only the name and the artwork of the album, but also the core essence of the band. Perhaps due to the fact that Crossbones have been active through a couple of decades already, the music found in WWIII will provide you a voyage through old school and modern metal music, which only brings more flavor to the entire album. And let’s be honest, for a band that comes from a country where metal has absolutely (and unfortunately) zero support, what these guys do with their music is beyond fantastic.

The high amount of heaviness and groove emanating from all instruments from the very first second in I’m God, a potent mid-tempo Groove Metal composition with blazing guitar solos and neck-breaking riffs, will punch you in the face mercilessly, with lead singer Olsi Ballta delivering classic and melodious Thrash Metal vocal lines. And that’s only the beginning, as the straightforward tune Gates of Hell, led by guitarist Ben Turku and his slashing riffs, will please all fans of heavy music, with drummer Theo Napoloni and bassist Klejd Guza adding tons of groove to the musicality with their pounding beats and thunderous notes, respectively. In the slightly more atmospheric (but still as heavy as hell) Gjallë, or “alive” from Albanian, Theo and Klejd once again become the dynamic duo of fierceness, setting the perfect tone for Olsi to growl the song’s lyrics (which by the way are in Albanian).

The interesting WTF, which obviously means “what the fuck”, is more alternative than all previous tracks, focusing on the cutting strings by both Ben and Klejd while Olsi fires anguished and acid vocals, therefore increasing the song’s obscurity, with its ending being a sheer Groove Metal feast; whereas Messing with the Masses is a lot more introspective and somber, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. The dissonant and macabre guitar solo by Ben halfway through it is very effective though, while its second half sounds like a completely different song, being a mix of Alternative and Nu Metal. Schizo gets back to a more direct metal sonority thanks to the high dosage of harmony coming from the guitars by Ben, with Olsi also singing in his mother tongue and sounding more aggressive and demented, in sync with the theme proposed by the song’s name.

Rise offers thrilling Heavy Metal the way we headbanging bastards like it, also bringing elements from Sludge and Stoner Metal (therefore showing the band’s versatility) while Klejd simply kicks ass with his bass lines, supporting the song’s old school metallic lyrics (“I’m taking my chances / Roaming the streets / A wild stab in the dark / And over the fences / A million of thoughts / And fresh blood in the heart”). After a short eerie intro, the band delivers a dark version of Groove Metal with elements from Gothic Rock and Metal in You Fool, where Olsi steals the spotlight with his melancholic growls, supported by the heavy, obscure sounds blasted by all other bands members; followed by That Kind of Feeling, a dark semi-ballad by Crossbones featuring melodic elements from contemporary metal music blended with traditional vocal lines and the punch of Groove Metal, adding more taste to the album. And the second installment of the opening track, simply titled I’m God, Pt. 2, closes WWIII, beginning in a very sorrowful and pensive manner and being a lot more atmospheric than any other song of the album. In other words, a beautiful ending for WWIII, with Olsi having a truly passionate performance on vocals.

If you want to show your support to Crossbones and Albanian metal, simply visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and buy your copy of WWIII on iTunes, Amazon, Target, CD Universe, Walmart, hbdirect.com and several other retailers. We might not be ready for a real-life World War III, but we should all be more than happy with the music presented by this longstanding Albanian squad in WWIII, an album that will certainly cement the legacy of such important band for metal in Albania, in Eastern Europe and anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Gates of Hell, Gjallë and Rise.

Worst moments of the album: Messing with the Masses.

Released in 2017 Nadir Music

Track listing
1. I’m God 6:55
2. Gates of Hell 5:52
3. Gjallë 4:39
4. WTF 6:32
5. Messing with the Masses 5:23
6. Schizo 6:05
7. Rise 4:41
8. You Fool 4:38
9. That Kind of Feeling 5:58
10. I’m God, Pt. 2 3:39

Band members
Olsi Ballta – vocals
Ben Turku – guitars
Klejd Guza – bass
Theo Napoloni – drums

Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio Promo Hour Of The Day – From Monday To Friday @ 8pm GMT

http://midnight-madness.is-a-rockstar.com/Great news for all of you metalheads!

FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8pm GMT, one of our kick-ass partners, Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, broadcasting directly from London, England, will blast the best of underground metal music reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose during the PROMO HOUR OF THE DAY!

So remember, FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8PM GMT tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to get your daily shot of the cream of the underground metal music crop, from Hard Rock to Black Metal, from Folk Metal to Thrash Metal, from Doom Metal to Metalcore, and so on! You’ll have the unique pleasure of listening to the superb music by bands like Charm Designer, Neverworld, Majesty Of Revival, Nervosa, False Coda, Atonismen, Diabolizer, The Silent Rage, Terrifier, Gaerea, and tons of other amazing metal acts from all over the world!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

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Album Review – Sepultura / Machine Messiah (2017)

“Sepultura do Brasil” are back with an exciting, multilayered journey through countless music genres and styles, proving there’s still room for innovation in heavy music.

Rating4

sepultura_machine_messiahIf you’re one of those diehard fans of Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal icons Sepultura that doesn’t accept anything the band has done after the departure of Max Cavalera, you can stop reading this review right now as that version of Sepultura is long gone. Machine Messiah, the fourteenth studio album by the most important band in the history of Brazilian Metal, is not only their best release since their 1998 album Against, but also (and more important than that) their most experimental album since their 1996 classic Roots, completely different from that basic Thrash Metal formula from their early days, therefore offering admirers of innovative music an exciting, multilayered journey through countless music genres and styles.

Machine Messiah, which features a stylish artwork designed by visual artist Camille Della Rosa that feels like a play with the cover art from their 1991 cult album Arise, is also the band’s first studio album in over three years since The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart, from 2013, marking the longest gap between two studio albums in their career. In addition, this is the second album with Eloy Casagrande on drums, who’s definitely a lot more comfortable now with the band and, consequently, he ends up adding a lot more intricacy, electricity and groove to the music by Sepultura. And regarding Mr. Andreas Kisser, well, nothing I write in this review will be enough to describe what he did in Machine Messiah with his superb technique.

Venturing on new lands never before explored by Sepultura, the title-track Machine Messiah is a dark, slow and atmospheric tune where we have Derrick’s clean and somber vocals complemented by Andreas’ unique riffs and soulful solos, showcasing elements from Doom and Stoner Metal that increase the song’s obscurity; whereas I Am the Enemy, with its rebellious lyrics (“Powered by thoughts of revolution / Building all bridges of error / Search and destroy my sick innerself / To realize I’m not a fraud”), gets closer to the brutal Hardcore found in albums like Against, with Eloy smashing his drums while Andreas and Derrick emanate sheer violence in this excellent high-octane hymn. And in Phantom Self, an experimental Groove Metal composition with hints of Alternative Metal, regional elements from the Brazilian and Middle-Eastern cultures are nicely added to the musicality, enhanced by the song’s thoughtful lyrics (“The crash. Flash backs. Carnage the blood keeps on flowing / Killing me. Trapped inside this tragedy / Can’t see the road in front of me / Replay this nightmare over and over”).

Alethea is another distinct composition in such diverse album, albeit not as crisp and exciting as the previous songs despite its progressiveness and experimentations. Once again, it’s Andreas who delivers the best pieces of the song with his flammable guitar, which also happens in Iceberg Dances, a kick-ass instrumental extravaganza where Andreas, Paulo and Eloy are in perfect sync, firing powerful riffs, thunderous bass lines and groovy beats. It reminds me a lot of the music by Mastodon, which means it’s at the same time insane and harmonious, with its Deep Purple-inspired keyboards and Flamenco acoustic guitar lines bringing even more awesomeness to the overall result. The symphonic and sometimes epic Sworn Oath, the longest of all songs, is not just another good surprise in Machine Messiah, but also in my humble opinion the best sonority for Derrick’s voice when he’s not singing fast-paced Hardcore. Moreover, if played live with a proper orchestra, it should sound simply astounding.

sepultura_2017In the dark Resistant Parasites, Paulo delivers sheer heaviness with his bass lines, taking the song’s modern Groove Metal to the extreme, exhibiting a powerful and innovative vibe without losing the band’s characteristic aggressiveness, followed by Silent Violence, another track that reminds me of the craziness blasted by Mastodon. It’s fuckin’ heavy and complex at the same time, a tune to break your neck where Derrick fires madness and anger with his growls while Andreas continues to deliver pure creativity and feeling through his riffs and solos. Eloy and Andreas speed things up in the thrilling mosh pit-generator hymn Vandals Nest, bringing forward tons of creativity, complexity and groove (needless to say, I can’t wait to feel this song played live), before Cyber God gets back to the doomed sonority found in many parts of the album. This is a beautiful, somber ending to the regular version of the album, displaying low-tuned bass punches and piercing guitars, and blending elements from several styles such as Industrial, Groove, Gothic and Doom Metal, among many others, being extremely hard to define its style. And of course, if you go for the special edition of Machine Messiah, you’ll be treated to two top-notch bonus tracks, in special their cover version for Ultraseven no Uta from the cult tokusatsu science fiction TV series Ultra Seven, originally recorded by The Echoes & Misuzu Children’s Choral Group, not to mention the version that comes with a DVD with the making of Machine Messiah available at the Nuclear Blast webstore.

After Machine Messiah, I wonder where Andreas, Paulo, Derrick and Eloy will go next with their music. It’s such an experimental, intense and elaborate album it’s hard to imagine those four guys will be able to top it in terms of complexity with their future releases. But who am I to doubt what the iconic Sepultura will offer the world in the future? Andreas keeps getting better and better in what he does, putting his heart and soul into his music and uniting with his guitar in the most perfect way imaginable, with the other band members supporting him with precision and stamina. Sepultura are and will always be Brazil’s most prominent metal band no matter what, and with Machine Messiah they’re sending a solid message to the world there’s still room for innovation in heavy music, always keeping their core essence heavy and electrifying.

Best moments of the album: I Am the Enemy, Iceberg Dances and Vandals Nest.

Worst moments of the album: Alethea.

Released in 2017 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Machine Messiah 5:54
2. I Am the Enemy 2:27
3. Phantom Self 5:30
4. Alethea 4:31
5. Iceberg Dances 4:41
6. Sworn Oath 6:09
7. Resistant Parasites 4:58
8. Silent Violence 3:46
9. Vandals Nest 2:47
10. Cyber God 5:22

Special Edition bonus tracks
11. Chosen Skin 3:17
12. Ultraseven no Uta (The Echoes & Misuzu Children’s Choral Group cover) 1:18

Band members
Derrick Green – lead vocals
Andreas Kisser – guitars
Paulo Jr. – bass
Eloy Casagrande – drums, percussion

Album Review – Dead Witches / Ouija (2017)

Beware as the witches are coming to take your soul with their occult, stoned-out Doom Metal.

Rating4

hps048_deadwitches_300dpi_cmykBritish drummer Mark Greening (Electric Wizard, Ramesses, With The Dead) and Italian singer Virginia Monti (Psychedelic Witchcraft) have joined forces to establish the heaviest occult, psych superbeast to see the light in 2017, taking the shape of Occult Stoner/Doom Metal act Dead Witches and unleashing upon us mere mortals their debut album obscurely entitled Ouija, a must-have for followers of bands like Electric Wizard, Sleep and Pentagram, among others, who love the combination of dark and strong melodies, heavy guitar riffs and a truly supernatural vibe.

Ouija is comprised of six distinct songs that will mesmerize you during the album’s 33 minutes of somber passages, classic Doom Metal beats and a stunning performance by Virginia on vocals, all perfectly depicted by the bewitching artwork designed by Goatess Doomwych. In addition, Ouija also ended up being the last release in the career of guitarist Greg Elk, who sadly passed away late 2016, giving the album an extra mystical touch. In other words, while listening to Ouija, let the awesome sound of Greg’s guitar penetrate your mind and soul, taking you to the other side for a quick visit where he’s definitely having a good time with his deceased guitar heroes right now. I’m pretty sure that’s what Greg and the rest of the band want you to feel with their music.

The album’s two-and-a-half-minute long Intro informs a dark, misty storm is upon us, with the menacing bass by Carl Geary sending a clear message that there will be no sign of happiness from now on, beginning with the excellent Dead, where Greg and Mark generate the most damned atmosphere you can think of with their fetching guitar riffs and Doom Metal beats, respectively, before the classy Virginia begins firing her sexy devilish vocals, leading us all to burn into the fire as the music progresses. And as the icing on the cake, Greg delivers an outstanding solo to make the whole song even more captivating.

deadwitches_02Then it’s Greg and Carl who build the wicked atmosphere in the sensational Drawing Down The Moon, my favorite song of the album where Virginia sounds even more rapturous on vocals. Moreover, when Mark speeds his beats up we’re treated to a potent sonority full of electricity, passion and the delicious obscurity of Doom Metal. The title-track Ouija is a lot more melancholic, highly recommended for savoring a full bottle of a high-quality, traditional red wine. Greg keeps blasting pure awesomeness through his riffs and solos, while at the same time we get hypnotized by the song’s vocal lines and beats inspired by ritualistic Doom Metal.

In Mind Funeral, get ready to play with the words “self”, “mind”, “control” and “funeral” together with Virginia throughout the whole song in a gripping way, while the rest of the band delivers their low-tuned, obscure lines flawlessly. Although this amazing chant might darken your heart a bit, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret feeling that darkness growing inside you thanks to the electrifying sonority brought forth by this England-based group. And A World Of Darkness, the last tune of this darkly alluring album, showcases powerful performances by Mark and Carl in over seven minutes of raw, straightforward old school Doom Metal that smoothly flow into a Stygian ending. Needless to say, the guitar sounds by Greg feel really touching the whole song, an amazing job done by a talented guitarist that will surely be missed by his family, friends and fans.

You can join the entrancing coven by this excellent UK band through their Facebook page or YouTube channel, and you’ll soon be able to buy your copy of Ouija at the Heavy Psych Sounds Records website, at the All That Is Heavy webstore, on Amazon and other locations. So beware, my dear headbanging friend, as the witches are coming to take your soul with the occult, stoned-out music found in Ouija, an album that has all it takes to become a fan-favorite among admirers of underground Doom Metal without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Drawing Down The Moon and Mind Funeral.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Intro 2:27
2. Dead 6:05
3. Drawing Down The Moon 5:54
4. Ouija 5:04
5. Mind Funeral 5:00
6. A World Of Darkness 7:35

Band members
Virginia Monti – vocals
Greg Elk (R.I.P.) – guitar
Carl Geary – bass
Mark Greening – drums

Album Review – Sülfür Ensemble / I (4 Songs About Dystopia, Satan, Ghouls & Marilyn Monroe) EP (2016)

Four veterans of the Turkish scene united in the names of Satan and Marilyn Monroe, blasting their noisy and heavy Sludge Metal upon humanity.

Rating5

coverWhen four veterans from the underworld of the Turkish metal scene get together to make a lot of noise and write music about Satan, ghouls and, believe it or not, Marilyn Monroe, you already know the final result is going to be very interesting to say the least. That’s what you’re going to get in the extravagant EP entitled I (4 Songs About Dystopia, Satan, Ghouls & Marilyn Monroe), recorded live in only two days by Turkish Sludge/Doom Metal act Sülfür Ensemble, a band that’s more than ready to doom all ears and unleash the noisiest and angriest ghouls upon their audience.

Formed in 2015 in the city of Istanbul, Turkey, Sülfür Ensemble bring forth all the heavy and dissonant elements from old school Sludge, Stoner and Doom Metal with their new EP, which translates into a 25-minute feast of distorted noises, anguished screams and a lot of fun. Featuring a simple but effective cover art by the band’s own lead singer Erdem Çapar, I (4 Songs About Dystopia, Satan, Ghouls & Marilyn Monroe) is not only an enjoyable and professional album by this talented Turkish squad, but also a solid statement informing the world of heavy music Sülfür Ensemble are here to stay.

sulfur-ensembleA slow and steady intro led by the distorted guitar lines by Levent Ersoy builds up the ambience for a grumpy and dark display of Doom Metal entitled Daily Hate, with the low-tuned bass by Burak Özgüney reverberating through our ears during the whole song. Moreover, when Erdem begins screaming the song’s angry lines the whole experience of listening to the music by Sülfür Ensemble gets even more impactful. And if you think the atmosphere would get lighter in the following tune, titled Plea, you’re absolutely wrong, because their feast of anguish and distortions goes on, starting with a wicked intro about Satan and flowing into kick-ass Sludge Metal. Drummer Emre Şahin is very rhythmic and adds a lot of groove to the obscurity crafted by the rest of the band, with Levent firing some soulful Blues-inspired solos whereas the bass lines by Burak sound even more menacing than in the previous track.

The old school sludgy chant Karaçor keeps up with the rest of the album, with the main difference that it’s entirely sung in Turkish instead of English, an extra touch of rawness added to their already thrilling music. Erdem provides some low growls and demented screams perfect for the musicality blasted by the band, turning it into a full-bodied composition that will please all fans of the genre, with highlights to the precise work done by both Levent and Burka with their strings. And their last blast of badass and uncompromised music is beautifully entitled Marilyn, another solid creation by this quartet where Emre keeps smashing his drums while Erdem’s growls continue to disquiet our peace. Thus, the main question left by the band to Marilyn (in the form of some demented screams) is “when will I see you again?”

live-in-kargart

Live In Kargart 30092016

The EP has been released in CD format through Morbid Syndicate Records and can be purchased through the label’s BandCamp page or through the band’s own BandCamp page as well. The band is also offering a free download of their first live EP called Live In Kargart 30092016, recorded at Kargart, one of the coolest venues in İstanbul on September 30, 2016, containing all four songs from I (4 Songs About Dystopia, Satan, Ghouls & Marilyn Monroe), one unnamed song and a cover version of Venom’s all-time classic In League With Satan. You can also check the live video of the last 3 songs of the same concert at their YouTube channel. And if you want to know more about those four Turkish guys who worship Satan and Marilyn Monroe (if not both at the same time), go check their Facebook page and SoudCloud, just being careful not to deafen your neighbors with the heavy noises generated by the band.

Best moments of the album: Karaçor.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Morbid Syndicate Records

Track listing
1. Daily Hate 7:18
2. Plea 4:59
3. Karaçor 8:14
4. Marilyn 4:16

Band members
Erdem Çapar – vocals
Levent Ersoy – guitar
Burak Özgüney – bass
Emre Şahin – drums

Album Review – Hammerhands / Largo Forte (2016)

The soundtrack to your darkest days is here, courtesy of a talented Canadian band and their sluggish, heavy and rowdy music.

Rating4

hh-largo-forte-coverFew subgenres of heavy music can be so disturbingly awesome as Sludge and Doom Metal thanks to those low-tuned sounds, wicked screams and sluggish beats that penetrate our hearts and souls every single time we listen to them, making our lives a little more miserable just the way we like it. Hailing from the city of Mississauga, Ontario (extremely close to our “headquarters”), here comes Canadian Sludge Metal quartet Hammerhands offering their moodiness, blasphemy and grudge in their brand new album, entitled Largo Forte, a solid display of atmospheric and doomed heavy music that will accompany your misery during those dark and rainy days.

Formed in the year of 2012, Hammerhands released their debut album, Glaciers, one year later in 2013, also releasing that same year a special covers EP named 1995 containing their versions for two of their biggest influences in music (“X.Y.U.” by The Smashing Pumpkins, and “To Bring You My Love” by PJ Harvey). It might have taken three years for the band to release new original material, but based on the music found in Largo Forte it was definitely worth the wait. Featuring a dark and pensive artwork by their own bassist Justin Hunt, Largo Forte brings forward the band’s trademark Atmospheric Sludge and Doom Metal blended with Alternative Metal and other subgenres of heavy music, generating a metallic ambience tailored for fans of sheer heaviness.

The rumbling bass by Justin kicks off the groovy Eighteen, a sluggish composition that becomes a dark feast of modern and crude Sludge Metal when the inebriate and desperate vocals by NJ Borreta join the musicality, with its anguish ending only increasing its impact even more; followed by THUNDERCHUNK, a dense Stoner Metal chant emanating pure anger from its lyrics (“You are a brave man, / some father’s son. / Hammer your hard head, / against the ground. / You’re going to flex your muscles, / and bare your teeth. / Break everything around you, / you know I’ll hold my god damn stance.”). Guitarist Collin Young does a superb job with his wicked noises while drummer Jon Galletly delivers those slow and extremely heavy beats we love in this type of music, with yet another ending transpiring hopelessness and anguish.

hammerhandsHigh Plains is just perfect for an eerie strip-tease done by a mischievous and devilish woman, an obscure Sludge and Doom Metal tune led by the thunderous bass by Justin and the slow and steady beats by Jon, not to mention the spot-on vocals by Collin throughout the entire song. And the title-track Largo Forte begins as obscure as its predecessor, with the bass lines kicking you in the face while Collin fires some Sabbath-inspired riffs in the background. Moreover, the music is kept low and dark almost in its entirety, suddenly exploding into pure hatred through the desperate screams by NJ. Mezzo Grave, displaying some wicked noises and screeches, works as a bridge to If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem, showcasing downright distortion and an endless dosage of aggressiveness. The thunderous sounds blasted by bass and drums will pierce your mind, whereas NJ continues delivering his anguished lines until the song’s chaotic and heavy ending.

With a start lot lighter than all previous tunes, Where We Go brings forward more melodious and melancholic sounds thanks to the guitar lines by Collin. Albeit being a good composition, it’s slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality and creativity, but fortunately that doesn’t last long as we’re treated to the almost pure Doom Metal tune Darkerness with its low-tuned sonority and slow, heavy pace. This song presents a tormented intro that goes on for over two minutes, warning the listener that darkness is upon us, which is only confirmed through its macabre lyrics (“We’ll gut them, / and bleed them dry. / They’ll scream for hope, / but die inside. / Now that they plunge, / there is no right. / This place, / no light.”). Furthermore, as already happened in previous songs, its ending is a noisy and deranged chaos. In The Hardest Thing we have one final blast of distress, with Collin declaiming the lyrics through his somber and funereal vocals while the rest of the band plays some sort of Tarantino-inspired noisy Blues, an interesting way to close such a substantial album.

There’s a nice way to enjoy the whole album on YouTube in the 49-minute official video crafted by the band, displaying deserted landscapes, predatory reptiles, burning lava, among other beautiful scenes from Mother Nature, and you can also visit their Facebook page and YouTube channel to know more about their music and future projects. Obviously, you can purchase Largo Forte at Hammerhands’ BandCamp page to show your true support to these talented Mississaugans whose job is to provide us fans of Sludge metal exactly the type of music needed on our gloomiest days.

Best moments of the album: THUNDERCHUNK, High Plains and If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem.

Worst moments of the album: Where We Go.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Eighteen 4:58
2. THUNDERCHUNK 7:11
3. High Plains 4:57
4. Largo Forte 6:44
5. Mezzo Grave 2:34
6. If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem 3:39
7. Where We Go 5:50
8. Darkerness 7:58
9. The Hardest Thing 5:25

Band members
NJ Borreta – vocals, guitar
Collin Young – guitar, vocals on “High Plains”, “Where We Go” and “The Hardest Thing”
Justin Hunt – bass, backing vocals
Jon Galletly – drums, backing vocals

Guest musician
Andrew Couto – saxophone on “Darkerness”

Album Review – The Sound That Ends Creation / We Are The Burden (2016)

Get ready for 21 minutes of brutal and technical Grindcore that will crush your spinal cord mercilessly.

Rating5

the sound that ends creation - we are the burdenIf someone asks you to mention a good one-man or one-woman band in Heavy Metal, the first names that will come to your mind probably play raw and obscure Black Metal. I would say that’s the case in nine out of ten projects, but obviously there are also many excellent multi-instrumentalists generating interesting material in other ramifications of heavy music such as Death and Doom Metal, for example. However, I believe this will be the first time you’ll be facing a one-man army blasting a trenchant fusion of Grindcore and Metalcore, two subgenres of heavy music where you’ll usually find regular bands comprised of at least three members. I’m talking about The Sound That Ends Creation, the indomitable creature generated inside the mind of American musician Chris Dearing in which he plays all of guitar and bass, as well as performing vocals and programming drums.

Formed in early 2016 in the city of Allen, Texas, in the United States, The Sound That Ends Creation blends all main styles found in extreme music, those being Death Metal, Black Metal, Mathcore and even Sludge and Stoner Metal, together with the project’s core essence formed of unrelenting Grindcore. The result of that brutal fusion can be seen in We Are The Burden, the debut album by The Sound That Ends Creation that will crush your spinal cord mercilessly in its 21 minutes of uncompromised devastation. Do not expect any sign of happiness or positivity emanating from the music, but only sheer savagery perfect for slamming into the pit as expected from any good Grindcore band.

Chris comes barking like a rabid dog in the opening track, a two-minute technical Grindcore tune named The Complex, also blasting the first wave of heavy riffs and violent beats in We Are The Burden. Moreover, drums sound amazingly organic despite being programmed, which is also the case in Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark, a diabolical mix of Grindcore and Black Metal, with its guitar lines being as sharp as the Death Metal-inspired growls by Chris. It doesn’t matter if the music gets faster than a bullet or as sluggish and somber as traditional Doom Metal, the entire song kicks fuckin’ ass. And the distorted mind of Chris provides the listener another two-minute havoc overflowing anger and hatred entitled A Cyclical Dawn, with highlights to all its tempo changes, which in my opinion means a lot considering the fact this is a relatively short composition.

TSTECLOGOThe Fires Are Growing trespasses the boundaries of heaviness, almost feeling like pure old school Death Metal at times while also sounding extremely progressive, flowing to a lancinating ending before the most intricate composition of the album, Machinations Of Progress, brings forth chaos and harmony at the same time. Highly recommended for fans of complexity and fury in music the likes of old school Carcass, this is the perfect example of how our lone wolf is capable of sounding like many well-established Technical Death Metal bands even being by himself and having no support from any record label. And how about an atmospheric break titled Interlude before Chris’ onslaught returns? You better take that time off to breathe, because what he delivers in A Hollow Pine Box is simply awesome. Not only guitars are superb (as well as all rhythmic beats and breaks), but there’s also room for hints of Pantera and the low-tuned sonority of Stoner Metal, enhancing the song’s impact on the listener.

If you’re still alive after such level of devastation, there’s still more madness in the form of music for you. Pounding his guitar and bass, Chris offers more high-quality Death Metal and Grindcore in less than two minutes titled Bottom Feeders, followed by The Open Eye, where the high-pitched growling by Chris together with his deeper guttural brings more flavor to the overall result. And closing the album with a beautiful message about how cruel and heartless we can all be, Chris presents the extremely technical A Portrait Of Inhumanity, a brutal Death Metal assault with progressive notes where Chris has another visceral performance on vocals.

After listening to such an inspiring album, I suggest you all go get in touch with Chris and his electrified The Sound That Ends Creation at the project’s Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channel, and if you love the demolishing sound of raw and technical Grindcore you can purchase We Are The Burden at The Sound That Ends Creation’s BandCamp page. Chris’ 21 minutes of ruthless and virulent music are definitely worth the investment, and by buying the album you will also help this talented artist in perpetrating the awesomeness and energy of the independent scene of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark, The Fires Are Growing and A Hollow Pine Box.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. The Complex 2:06
2. Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark 2:18
3. A Cyclical Dawn 2:24
4. The Fires Are Growing 2:08
5. Machinations Of Progress 2:10
6. Interlude 1:13
7. A Hollow Pine Box 2:07
8. Bottom Feeders 1:38
9. The Open Eye 1:59
10. A Portrait Of Inhumanity 3:14

Band members
Chris Dearing – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Devolted / Broken Kings EP (2016)

How about grabbing a pint, getting drunk and, to the sound of this promising Irish band, picking up a fight at a rowdy pub in Dublin?

Rating5

Devolted_-_Broken_Kings_2016-667x650If you’re a metalhead living in the Greater Dublin Area, in the Republic of Ireland, or if you’re a tourist visiting Dublin and looking for some good metal music in the city, I highly recommend you take a look at the official Facebook page of Heavy Metal/Hard Rock quartet Devolted and see if they’re playing anywhere in the city while you’re around. This “musical four-piece of reprobates” plays straightforward old school heavy music perfect for engaging in a pub fight, and where else can you find better pubs than in Dublin?

Bounded together in 2010 through their passion for Heavy Metal and beer, Devolted are releasing their second installment now in 2016, the fast-paced and very enjoyable EP entitled Broken Kings. After releasing their debut EP The Curious Case in 2014 and suffering a major lineup change in 2015, Devolted began focusing on more contemporary, sharper and groovier sounds, blending a shitload of styles and genres in their music to the point you have to get properly drunk to be able to list all of them. However, as already mentioned, the final result is far from being messy or untuneful. Quite the contrary, this totally uncompromised band managed to reach a unique musicality that will definitely inspire you to jump up and down with the band and (who knows) throw some good punches around.

The first track of the EP, My Monster, brings forward a rhythmic start with modern and heavy guitar lines, until lead singer and bassist Rafal Smyczynski screams a nice “FUCK!” and the festivities begin. Moreover, Devolted offer an interesting fusion of the aggressiveness by Pantera with Metalcore and Hard Rock during the entire song, with the bridge to the chorus being perfect for enlivening the listener’s experience.

Displaying elements from traditional Heavy Metal, Hardcore and Metalcore, Dogs Of War is another solid composition tailored for setting fire to a Rock N’ Roll party, and you can easily notice how much guitarists Mark O’Reilly and Killian Chellar might love the unparalleled riffs by guitar heroes Dimebag Darrell and Michael Amott. In God Of Light, drummer Dominik Tokarski begins pounding his drums until the whole band joins him in a parade of inebriate vocals, metallic riffs and a pure headbanging rhythm. Hints of Groove and Stoner Metal add an extra flavor to the music, and while Rafal screams the song title, the riffs blasted by Mark and Killian will fill your ears with pure good old Rock N’ Roll.

online resolutionLast but not least, the title-track Broken Kings begins by displaying an interesting merger of Melodic Death Metal and Hardcore through the excellent job done on guitars as well as on drums. This is undoubtedly the most electrifying tune of the EP where all band members are on beast mode, with highlights to its backing vocals providing the necessary support to Rafal and his Pantera-inspired vocals, as well as its guitar solo which simply helps it in being the most complete of the four tracks. In other words, this composition will leave you eager for more of Devolted’s solid rock music.

Knowing how much Dubliners love metal music, I can’t believe this is the first review to ever be done for a band from such a special city. Well, at least it was worth the wait, as Devolted simply kick fuckin’ ass with their storm of rock and metal. And in order to know more about the band, go visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, and don’t forget to support Irish Heavy Metal by purchasing Broken Kings at their BandCamp page or on iTunes. After getting used to their music, all you have to do is head to the nearest Irish pub, grab a couple of pints, get drunk and, to the sound of Devolted, start a nice brawl with some strangers (or even with your friends), how about that?

Best moments of the album: Broken Kings.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. My Monster 4:36
2. Dogs Of War 3:37
3. God Of Light 4:05
4. Broken Kings 4:40

Band members
Rafal Smyczynski – vocals, bass
Mark O’Reilly – guitar, backing vocals
Killian Chellar – guitar, backing vocals
Dominik Tokarski – drums