Album Review – Tøronto / Under Siege EP (2020)

Weird n’ wild Speed Metal from the 80’s heavily inspired by Hardcore and Punk Rock, condensed into 22 fast and filthy minutes made in Sweden.

Weird n’ wild Speed Metal from the 80’s heavily inspired by Hardcore and Punk Rock. That combustible mixture is exactly what you’re going to get in Under Siege, the striking debut mini-album by a Swedish metal horde that goes by the unique name of Tøronto (why a band from Sweden was named after the biggest Canadian city is beyond my comprehension), following up on their highly-acclaimed 2018 demo Nocturnal High. Comprised of vocalist and guitarist Edvin Aftonfalk and bassist Dag Landin, here under the stage names Eddie Flawless and 79-83, respectively, and also featuring drummer Leo Ekström Sollenmo (from Lethal Steel and Temisto), here under the name Lt. Oxtreme, as well as one Seb Cyborg on lead guitars, this vicious quartet formed in 2017 partly out of the ashes of the sorely missed Swedish Progressive Death Metal squad Morbus Chron is ready to kill armed with their newborn spawn, providing fans of bands such as Razor, Warfare, Inepsy, Discharge and Motörhead, among others, a fast and furious ode to the 80’s free of any artificial elements, sounding “unselfconsciously” minimalist and raw throughout its eight bangers which average only around two or three minutes each, just to give you an idea of how compact and precise Tøronto are in what they do.

And you better get ready to be smashed by the quartet in the dirty and rebellious opening tune Fast and Filthy, a thrilling fusion of Speed and Thrash Metal with classic Punk Rock where Seb and Eddie will cut your skin deep with their razor-edged shredding while Eddie distills his inebriate vocals in great fashion; and their berserk sounds invade our senses mercilessly in Fire in Sight, another old school metallic extravaganza where Lt. Oxtreme pounds and hammers his drums nonstop. Put differently, this is a Thrash Metal hurricane tailored for admirers of the genre who wish they could go back in time to the 80’s (and stay there forever, of course), whereas the rumbling bass jabs by 79-93 ignite the pulverizing ode to all things metal titled Frostbite Bitch, and such beautiful name couldn’t have had a sound that’s more acid and headbanging than what it already does, spearheaded by Lt. Oxtreme and his classic, smashing beats and fills. And inspired by the early days of titans like Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica we have Mud City Maze, with the incendiary riffs blasted by Eddie and Seb being effectively complemented by the band’s heavy-as-hell kitchen, all spiced up by Seb’s traditional and always exciting solos.

Then the band offers us all 23-11-0, and whatever those numbers mean the band translates them into 80’s Speed Metal for our total delight, with Eddie sounding absolutely mental with his raspy vocals while Lt. Oxtreme doesn’t let the level of adrenaline go down not even for a single second. Adding a welcome touch of Rock N’ Roll to their fulminating sonority, they offer our ears the rhythmic Ride the Rails, perfect for hitting the road with your buddies or to enjoy a cold beer while Tøronto kick some ass onstage, whereas  in Bunker (Under Siege) the music leans towards classic Punk Rock but with the band’s core Speed and Punk Metal essence intact, resulting in a song made for uniting all punks and metallers of the world in the name of good heavy music. Moreover, Eddie’s demented growls are nicely supported by his bandmates’ visceral backing vocals, while Seb keeps exhaling sheer electricity through his guitar solos. Finally, Eddie’s and Seb’s Megadeth-inspired riffs are the main ingredient in the closing song Lights Out at Bedlam, quickly morphing into another sonic assault by those Swedish rockers while 79-83 blasts thunder and rage from his bass.

If you want to join the 100% Swedish and (unfortunately) 0% Canadian unity known as Tøronto in their quest for Speed Metal, Punk Rock and lots of booze, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, listen to more of their music on Spotify, and obviously purchase your copy of the short and sweet Under Siege from the Dying Victims Productons’ BandCamp page or webstore in regular black vinyl format or as a special edition on colored vinyl, both containing a poster, a sticker, a post card, a download code and a patch, as well as from Apple Music. In a nutshell, our roten and decaying society is under siege by a fantastic four-piece squad hailing from Sweden, and they only need 22 minutes to decimate us all just the way we like it in uncompromising extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Fast and Filthy, Fire in Sight and Ride the Rails.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Dying Victims Productions

Track listing
1. Fast and Filthy 3:24
2. Fire in Sight 3:33
3. Frostbite Bitch 2:59
4. Mud City Maze 1:29
5. 23-11-0 2:04
6. Ride the Rails 3:50
7. Bunker (Under Siege) 2:26
8. Lights Out at Bedlam 2:52

Band members
Eddie Flawless – vocals, guitars
Seb Cyborg – lead guitars
79-83 – bass
Lt. Oxtreme – drums

Album Review – Katatonia / City Burials (2020)

The most free-spirited of modern metal bands returns with absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements.

“In days and nights of black and silver, the dead end king will come. From pieces of broken mirrors there will be a crown bestowed upon his head. In reflections of shattered glass not only the seasons will turn, but also the change disguised by the lapse of time. His mind will have to come to bear the weight of everything that was left behind and forgotten. Archiving the inaccessible. Celebrating the abandoned and mourning the destroyed. The city burials.” – Anders Nyström

Revered masters of melancholy for nearly 30 years, Swedish Progressive/Alternative Rock/Metal icons Katatonia have always pursued a profound emotional connection with their music and those who listen to it. Formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1991 by now vocalist Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders Nyström, the most free-spirited of modern metal bands has taken a slow and steady but at the same time endless fascinating journey from primitive beginnings in the extreme music underground to their current status as darlings of both the metal world and the Progressive Rock scene. Now in 2020, after a well-deserved break taken by Jonas and Anders together with their henchmen Roger Öjersson on the guitars, Niklas Sandin on bass and Daniel Moilanen on drums since the release of their last album The Fall Of Hearts in 2016, Katatonia return in full force with City Burials, the eleventh studio album in their unique career. From its grim album art by Beech (The Pineapple Thief, Godsticks, Jen Cloher) to the very last second of the closing song, City Burials is the ultimate proof of Jonas and Anders’ enduring artistic bond throughout the album’s absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements, perfectly representing the band’s ever-evolving sound.

And a beyond whimsical start led by Jonas’ serene clean vocals kicks off the opening track Heart Set to Divide before his bandmates come crushing with a harmonious fusion of Progressive Metal and Alternative Rock, with the bass by Niklas bringing sheer groove to their music, whereas in Behind the Blood the flammable guitars by Anders and Roger embellish the airwaves in a lesson in modern rock and metal music that lives up to the band’s own legacy, not to mention the song’s poetic lyrics (“Rivers rush, behind the blood / The cinder skies come alive with this drop of sunset / How far can we go? Along the elusive flood / I’ve been waiting all of my life to be with you”). Then slowing things down and adding a good amount of melancholy and grief to their musicality Katatonia offer us all Lacquer, with all instruments, including the programmed drums by guest Joakim Karlsson (from Swedish Black Metal act Craft), providing all Jonas needs to shine on vocals.

A futuristic and cinematic feel permeates the air in Rein, where the minimalist guitar sounds blasted by Anders and Roger walk hand in hand with Daniel’s intricate beats, culminating in a delicate sound that will certainly please all fans of this more contemporary version of the band, followed by The Winter of Our Passing, a HIM-inspired composition showcasing beautiful passages and an ethereal vibe led by the band’s sharp guitar duo and the always groovy bass by Niklas, leaning at time towards pure Progressive Rock. After such embracing song it’s time for Vanishers, an utterly experimental and atmospheric tune by Katatonia featuring the angelic vocals by Anni Bernhard (from Swedish rock band Full Of Keys) where we’re all inspired to close our eyes and savor each note while witnessing a beautiful sunrise. And displaying nuances from the music played by rock acts like Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam without forgetting their melancholic core essence, the band offers our avid ears the also progressive and gentle City Glaciers, presenting another great job done by Anders and Roger with their crisp riffs and solos.

The last batch of songs in City Burials couldn’t have sounded more experimental and ethereal, with gentle piano notes intertwined with rumbling bass punches igniting the cryptic Flicker, where Jonas beautifully declaims the song’s words (“So cruel your desire / It pulled me under / But the drapery of my eye won’t fall / I lie in wait for the night to find you / Sephia teeth and claw”) while its modernized and atmospheric vibe penetrates deep inside your soul. Once again investing in serene and somber sounds and tones instead of the heaviness of their early days, Jonas takes the lead with his enfolding vocals in Lachesis, a too-short song that could have been a lot more detailed than its final shape and form, while in Neon Epitaph they get back to a heavier and groovier sound, with the tribal, fierce beats by Daniel and the mesmerizing riffs by Anders and Roger resulting in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Rock and Metal. Finally, intricate and progressive sounds conclude the album in Untrodden, never getting too heavy nor too mellow, but reaching a very pleasant balance exhibiting the absolute synchronicity between Jonas’ vocals and Anders’ precise riffs and solos.

In summary, the experimental and multi-layered City Burials, which you can stream in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify, continues to pave Katatonia’s path through the more serene and melancholic lands of Progressive Rock and Metal while also presenting to the band’s longtime fans an even more alternative side of Jonas, Anders & Co., positioning them as one of the most important bands of the genre (apart from their already important role in more extreme styles decades ago). Hence, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube to know more about them and of course about their music, and grab your copy of City Burials from several distinct locations by clicking HERE. I’ve recently read somewhere that City Burials is the perfect album to listen to at dawn, and after taken a few good listens at it I must agree with such beautiful comment about it. Well, I’m sure you’ll also have the same feeling while listening to it, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Behind the Blood, City Glaciers and Neon Epitaph.

Worst moments of the album: Lachesis.

Released in 2020 Peaceville Records

Track listing
1. Heart Set to Divide 5:29
2. Behind the Blood 4:37
3. Lacquer 4:42
4. Rein 4:28
5. The Winter of Our Passing 3:18
6. Vanishers 5:07
7. City Glaciers 5:42
8. Flicker 4:45
9. Lachesis 1:54
10. Neon Epitaph 4:32
11. Untrodden 4:29

Limited Edition bonus tracks
12. Closing of the Sky 5:24
13. Fighters (Enter The Hunt cover) 3:38

Band members
Jonas Renkse – vocals
Anders Nyström – guitars
Roger Öjersson – guitars
Niklas Sandin – bass
Daniel Moilanen – drums

Guest musicians
Anni Bernhard – vocals on “Vanishers”
Anders Eriksson – programming
Joakim Karlsson – drum programming on “Lacquer”

Album Review – Eleine / All Shall Burn EP (2019)

Let us all burn together with this awesome Symphonic Metal unity hailing from Sweden in their brand new EP.

“United we join the fight, against our enemies.”

As Christmas is just around the corner, Landskrona, Sweden-based Symphonic Metal unity Eleine is ready to help you select a nice and exciting gift for your beloved metal friends with the release of a brand new EP entitled All Shall Burn, the follow-up to their 2018 full-length album Until the End. Featuring a dark, demonic and sexy artwork made by Mexican artist Néstor Ávalos in collaboration with the band’s frontwoman Madeleine “Eleine” Liljestam, All Shall Burn mirrors a rough period in time festered with pain and despair, yet also relief and unity. Taking a step into the darker and heavier realms of metal music, the band now comprised of the aforementioned Madeleine, guitarist Rikard Ekberg, and newcomers Ludwig Dante on the guitar, Anton Helgesson on bass and Jesper Sunnhagen on drums managed to maintain their seductive sound with beautiful symphonies and melodies from their previous albums in All Shall Burn, while at the same time giving us fans a taste of what to expect from the band in their future releases.

And let the feast of epicness and melody by Eleine begin with the opening track Enemies, which kicks off in a truly ominous way before exploding into dark and dense Symphonic Metal led by Rikard and Ludwig’s heavy-as-hell riffs, sounding and feeling absolutely majestic from start to finish, all embraced by the poetic lyrics stunningly declaimed by Madeleine (“Blood fills my lungs / A foul taste on my tongue / A shifting of the sands / This madness will not stand / Touch me and you’ll die / Challenge your fate no I don’t mind / I face this with a smile / The truth always survives”). The title-track All Shall Burn is just as exciting and imposing as its predecessor, offering the listener a more neck-breaking rhythm with Jesper smashing his drums beautifully. Furthermore, Madeleine and Rikard have an entertaining duel the likes of “Beauty and the Beast” with their respective operatic vocals and harsh roars, turning it into a mandatory addition to their upcoming live performances.

After two original songs it’s time for Eleine to kick some serious ass with their cover version for Mein Herz Brennt, one of the biggest classics by Neue Deutsche Härte trailblazers Rammstein (take a listen at the original version HERE), and Eleine did a fantastic job by adding their own symphonic twist to it. Not only that, it’s impressive how a Swedish band can sound so German, with the bass punches by Anton making your head tremble while Madeleine brings a delicious feminine touch to the overall musicality. The last two tracks in all Shall Burn are gorgeous symphonic versions for the songs Hell Moon (We Shall Never Die), from their 2018 album (and you can compare it to the original version by clicking HERE), and All Shall Burn, and in both cases Eleine bring to our avid ears a mesmerizing, orchestral atmosphere focusing on the the vocal duet between Madeleine and Rikard. Can you imagine the band playing these songs accompanied by a full-bodied orchestra? That should sound breathtaking, no doubt about that.

As mentioned in the beginning of this review, in case you still don’t know what to give to that metalhead you love so much this Christmas, let Eleine help you with All Shall Burn, a short and (extremely) sweet display of their classic Symphonic Metal with some brilliant add-ons in the form of their Rammstein cover song and two orchestral masterpieces. You can listen to the EP in full on Spotify and purchase it from the band’s own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all options where you can find the EP), and don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know information about them. Let us all burn together with Eleine to the sound of the incendiary Symphonic Metal found in their new EP, reminding us all why Madeleine and the boys have been on a constant and awesome rise since the band’s inception, becoming one of the biggest names of the modern Scandinavian scene.

Best moments of the album: Enemies and Mein Herz Brennt.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Black Lodge Records

Track listing
1. Enemies 5:22
2. All Shall Burn 4:21
3. Mein Herz Brennt (Rammstein cover) 4:41
4. Hell Moon (We Shall Never Die) (Symphonic version) 4:32
5. All Shall Burn (Symphonic version) 4:21

Band members
Madeleine “Eleine” Liljestam – vocals
Rikard Ekberg – guitar, growls, vocals
Ludwig Dante – guitar
Anton Helgesson – bass
Jesper Sunnhagen – drums

Album Review – Grand Magus / Wolf God (2019)

It’s time to worship the almighty Wolf God together with one of the most talented and hardworking bands of the Swedish metal scene.

Hailing from the stunning city of Stockholm, Sweden, Heavy/Doom Metal three-piece act Grand Magus has been delivering a powerful and thrilling amalgamation of styles such as Blues, Hard Rock, Heavy and Doom Metal since their inception in the now distant year of 1999 (or even 1996 if you consider their years under the name Smack as part of their current career), gathering a respectable fanbase through the years around the entire world of heavy music. For instance, their self-titled debut album Grand Magus, released in 2001, stirred up the underground to the point it is now considered to be a cult favorite, and now in 2019 the band comprised of Janne “JB” Christoffersson on lead vocals and guitars, Mats “Fox” Skinner on bass and backing vocals, and Ludwig “Ludde” Witt on drums returns in full force with Wolf God, the ninth album in their solid career and undoubtedly one of the most interesting and epic albums of the year. Drawing influence from bands such as Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Manowar, Grand Magus are absolutely focused, sharp and heavy-as-hell in Wolf God, blasting hymn after hymn for the delight of all lovers of the golden years of classic metal music.

With the majority of the songs being recorded on the first take at The Sweetspot Recording Studio in Sweden together with producer Staffan Karlsson (Arch Enemy, Firewind, Spiritual Beggars), Grand Magus achieved an honest, diverse and yet down-to-earth sound that envelops the trio’s true power, letting the music flow naturally throughout the album’s almost 40 minutes of undisputed Heavy Metal. “We decided to let go of the current philosophy to record drums first and then bass and then guitar etc. This time, we met up, jammed and created together during the last six months with the goal to record basic tracks live,” said the band about their newborn opus, and by enfolding it with the old school, aggressive artwork by American artist Anthony J. Roberts (Blackmindseye) the trio finally reached a new level of epicness that will certainly save a spot for them among the gods of metal.

Featuring orchestrations by Swedish musician Nico “Dyngwie” Elgstrand (guitarist for Entombed A.D.), who has already played acoustic guitars in a couple of tracks from their previous albums, Gold and Glory is a classy and epic intro to the howling title-track Wolf God, where Ludde pounds his drums in great Manowar-inspired fashion while JB delivers his trademark potent vocals, resulting in an old school metal song perfect for banging our heads while worshiping the Wolf God itself. And Fox’s thunderous bass take the lead in the also majestic A Hall Clad in Gold while Ludde continues to smash his drum set vigorously, not to mention all the passion and energy flowing from JB’s vocals, especially during the song’s absolutely catchy chorus.

Traditional, utterly metallic lyrics (“Ancient forces / Sleeping deep within my heart / Been searching / Through the ages in the dark / A secret / That will put me to the test / And guide me / So much stronger than the rest”) are the main ingredient in the headbanging tune Brother of the Storm, where JB fires pure electricity from his riffs while the beats by Ludde get more rhythmic and imposing, and you better keep banging your head like there’s no tomorrow in the incendiary Dawn of Fire, another classic, stylish Heavy and Doom Metal hymn led by JB’s crisp riffs and Fox’s rumbling bass. On a side note, I saw those guys playing this excellent tune live when they opened for Amon Amarth  here in Toronto, and it sounded beyond powerful and inspiring. Then putting the pedal to the metal the trio offers the circle pit-catalyst Spear Thrower, where we can enjoy Ludde’s berserk beats supporting the always pleasant vocals by JB, being tailored for fans of classic Heavy Metal while all is spiced up by JB’s piercing solos; whereas To Live and to Die in Solitude, one of the best songs in Wolf God with highlights to JB’s passionate performance and the unstoppable drums by Ludde, couldn’t be any more epic, vibrant and electrifying, or in other words, simply close your eyes and savor each and every note of such distinct ode to metal music.

A cryptic, semi-tribal intro evolves into another riff-fest titled Glory to the Brave, a beer-drinking, headbanging creation by the trio with Fox filling all spaces in the air with his bass jabs, perfect for raising your horns in the air together with Grand Magus, whereas in the thrilling He Sent Them All to Hel the skillful JB declaims the lyrics about a hero dealing with death and darkness in the aftermath (“First light in the morning – Foul smell of decay / He stands in silence – Nothing to say / Black ravens are calling / Flying high over head / Their wine is served by the dead / Once they rode together / Now he’s alone / Filling his soul with rage”), boosted by spot-on instrumental parts, endless stamina and the classic beats by Ludde, resulting in what’s in my humble opinion one of their best battle hymns of all time. And there’s nothing better than the pure Heavy Metal flowing from Untamed to close the album on a high note, showcasing a classic riffage and wild guitar solos by JB, while Fox and Ludde are on absolute fire on bass and drums, with the music flowing smoothly and powerfully until its epic finale.

It’s time for us all to praise the Wolf God, and we can do that by enjoying one of the best albums of 2019 in full on Spotify or by purchasing a copy of it from the Hamburg Records webstore or from the Nuclear Blast webstore. At this point of their career, we can all happily rest assured Grand Magus will never sell out, which means they’ll keep offering us all, lucky metalheads, precious gems of the underworld like Wolf God, bringing all their passion and respect for the gods of metal with each and every song of their albums and, more important than that, continuing to fight for Heavy Metal no matter what, always in the name of the almighty riff.

Best moments of the album: A Hall Clad in Gold, Brother of the Storm, To Live and to Die in Solitude and He Sent Them All to Hel.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Gold and Glory 2:18
2. Wolf God 3:49
3. A Hall Clad in Gold 5:02
4. Brother of the Storm 3:16
5. Dawn of Fire 5:12
6. Spear Thrower 2:55
7. To Live and to Die in Solitude 3:41
8. Glory to the Brave 5:15
9. He Sent Them All to Hel 3:37
10. Untamed 3:46

Band members
Janne “JB” Christoffersson – lead vocals, guitars
Mats “Fox” Skinner – bass, backing vocals
Ludwig “Ludde” Witt – drums

Guest musician
Nico “Dyngwie” Elgstrand – orchestrations on “Gold and Glory”

Album Review – Rexoria / Ice Breaker (2019)

One of the most promising names of the Swedish metal scene returns with an inspiring new album that will bring you right into the dark forests and up on high mountains.

Creating an inspiring sound with various folk and power influences which will bring you right into the dark forests and up on high mountains, Jönköping, Sweden-based Melodic Metal outfit Rexoria is back in action in 2019 with a brand new opus entitled Ice Breaker, the follow-up to their 2018 installment Queen of Light and, more important than that, an album that will undoubtedly put a huge smile on the faces of fans of the music played by renowned acts like Doro, Battle Beast, Imperia, Aldaria, and several other bands that beautifully unite the electricity of traditional Heavy Metal with melodic and epic nuances. Mixed and mastered at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden by Fredrik Nordström, and featuring an epic artwork showcasing a fearless valkyrie designed by Brazilian artist Jobert Mello from Sledgehammer Graphix (who has already worked with bands like Sabaton, Primal Fear and Grenouer), Ice Breaker is the perfect depiction of everything the music crafted by vocalist and keyboardist Frida Ohlin, guitarist and bassist Jonas Gustavsson, guitarist Cristofer Svensson and drummer Martin Gustavsson represents, being at the same time heavy, fast, melodic and exhilarating, paving a very promising path for these extremely talented musicians.

The electrifying riffs by Jonas and Cristofer permeate the air in the magical Velvet Heroes, a pure Hard Rock tune taken from the 80’s with a metallic touch brought forth by Frida’s soaring vocals, making it impossible to stand still to its inspiring rhythm and pace. Drinking from the same metal fountain as the iconic Doro, Frida delivers strident, sharp vocal lines in Fight the Demons, while her bandmates blast their instruments with tons of precision and feeling, sounding like a Swedish version of Accept with a feminine vibe; then it’s time to slow things down a bit to a passionate performance by Frida and the boys in Endless Nights, where Jonas and Cristofer are on fire with their guitar solos, resulting in a beautiful power ballad to warm up our hearts before the winter arrives. And if you consider yourself a courageous person, simply head into the always dangerous wilderness with Rexoria in Into the Wild, a mid-tempo tune where the galloping bass by Cristofer together with the rhythmic drums by Martin take the lead, being tailored for admirers of the golden years of Heavy Metal.

There’s more Melodic Metal flowing from their razor-edged guitars and pounding drums in Reach for the Heavens in Time, bringing an endless amount of electricity that will inspire you to prance and sing together with the band, whereas the title-track Ice Breaker is a lesson in Melodic Metal with an important message about the dangers of climate change, with its powerful backing vocals and galloping rhythm (that bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest made famous) supporting Frida in her quest for a better world. A screaming eagle and gentle piano notes are the main ingredients in the classy instrumental bridge Wind and Rain, before Rexoria embellish the airwaves once again with their charming metal music in The Rise of the Phoenix, leaning towards the Symphonic Metal played by bands like Nightwish and Epica. Needless to say, Jonas and Cristofer have another solid performance with their guitars, not to mention the song’s epic aura crafted by Frida’s keys.

Putting the pedal to the metal the band salutes the gods of heavy music in Brothers of Asgaard, a song that has all it takes to become a fan-favorite where Frida ventures through more aggressive lands with her high-pitched vocals, also showcasing thrilling guitar solos and unstoppable beats, followed by The Raging Thunder, another song that blends the heaviness of classic metal music with the band’s ethereal and touching vibe, being highly recommended for banging your head nonstop or simply savoring Frida’s powerful vocal lines. The second to last track in Ice Breaker, titled Roaring, is by far one of the best songs of the album, a rockin’ extravaganza led by Martin’s crushing beats where it’s truly entertaining to witness Frida roaring like the she-wolf she is, alternating between rampant moments and high-octane passages. And closing the album we have Vår Verklighet (or our reality” in Swedish), featuring Swedish vocalist Niklas Isfeldt (Dream Evil), an epic composition by the band where Frida and Niklas make a fantastic vocal duet while the rest of the guys keep the music flowing nicely and powerfully, also bringing a soulful guitar solo as the icing on the cake.

In summary, the excellent Ice Breaker, which is available in full on Spotify and on sale from several locations such as the band’s own webstore, the Pride & Joy webstore, the Nuclear Blast webstore, Apple Music and Amazon, represents a huge step forward in the career of those four Swedish metallers, helping Rexoria emerge as one of the most promising names in the Melodic and Symphonic Metal scene worldwide. Hence, you can also show your support to Frida and the boys by following them on Facebook, getting connected to a band that’s not only going places, but that showcases a limitless potential to shine brighter and brighter as the years go by and, above all, with an honest and deep passion for our beloved heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Velvet Heroes, Brothers of Asgaard and Roaring.

Worst moments of the album: The Rise of the Phoenix.

Released in 2019 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Velvet Heroes 3:28
2. Fight the Demons 4:07
3. Endless Nights 4:38
4. Into the Wild 3:52
5. Reach for the Heavens in Time 5:08
6. Ice Breaker 5:38
7. Wind and Rain 1:26
8. The Rise of the Phoenix 5:04
9. Brothers of Asgaard 3:45
10. The Raging Thunder 4:12
11. Roaring 3:47
12. Vår Verklighet 4:31

Band members
Frida Ohlin – vocals, keyboards
Jonas Gustavsson – guitar, bass
Cristofer Svensson – guitar
Martin Gustavsson – drums

Guest musician
Niklas Isfeldt – vocals on “Vår Verklighet”

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 – Corrosive Sweden / Blood and Panic (2019)

An electrifying fusion of an old school feeling twisted and coated perfectly with a modern sound, hailing from the beautiful (and corrosive) Sweden.

Described as a hybrid between old school Thrash Metal and Melodic Death Metal, Swedish five-piece unity Corrosive Sweden has recently released a brand new opus entitled Blood and Panic, dealing with personal issues and changes faced by all band members. “The album has really been worked through and is a pure reflection of our personal lives. It is probably the best material we have done so far,” said the band in an interview, with the music found in Blood and Panic, recorded over a few years by the members themselves in their own studio Dark City Sounds, being a well-balanced mix of an old school feeling twisted and coated perfectly with a modern sound, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Metallica, In Flames and Soilwork, among others.

Formed in the distant year of 1997 in Hudiksvall, Sweden, the band comprised of Johan Bengtsson on vocals, Christer Ulander on the guitar and keyboards, Peter Forss also on the guitar, Magnus Nordin on bass and Daniel Hedin on drums has already released a number of recordings and played at several clubs and festival in Sweden through the years, bringing their Heavy Metal infused with a wide range of elements from classic Hard Rock to Punk Rock and Power Metal to the ears of metalheads from all over the world. Now with Blood and Panic the band continues to pave their metallic path, sounding unique but at the same time offering recognizable fragments from their musical influences in each of the nine songs from the album.

The riffs by Christer and Peter will pierce your skin until Daniel comes crushing with his beats in Fire from a Gun, a fusion of modern-day Heavy Metal with Groove Metal showcasing an amazing balance between clean vocals and harsh roars, followed by the title-track Blood and Panic, just as electrifying as the opening track. Both guitars are on absolute fire, providing Johan all he needs to vociferate manically in a hard-hitting, straightforward display of Melodic Death Metal by the quintet, also delivering some sick guitar solos to our avid ears. And it seems like they want to slash our faces in half with their vicious riffs in Speed, even more modern and melodic, and with its backing vocals providing a powerful support to Johan while Daniel pounds his drums just the way we like it in heavy music.

Venturing through more aggressive and darker lands, Christer and Peter kick some ass with their Iron Maiden-inspired riffs and solos in Angry Me, whereas Angel or a Beast sounds like a bastard hybrid of Pantera, Rob Zombie and Godsmack, which obviously translates into awesomeness. Once again the band’s dynamic guitar duo shreds their axes nonstop, extracting sheer rage and groove from their stringed weapons while Johan delivers one of his best vocal lines of the entire album; and bringing forward elements from more alternative styles of heavy music, Terrified as I Die showcases Magnus’ thunderous bass and Daniel’s hammering beats adding a lot of stamina to the overall result (despite not being as exciting as the rest of the album).

Dirtier-than-usual vocals and riffs are the main ingredients in Parasite, a great option for hitting the road or slamming into the mosh pit, as long as you don’t stop banging your head to their neck-breaking riffs and beats, of course. At the Top is another high-octane extravaganza by Corrosive Sweden, bringing forward a solid instrumental led by Daniel’s classic drums while Johan keeps screaming and shouting with a lot of energy and precision, before more rage and despair flow from Johan’s vocal lines in the closing tune Black Paint, with the music remaining absolutely heavy and groovy from start to finish, putting a vibrant ending to Blood and Panic.

After the album is over, just keep raising your horns for Corrosive Sweden as those guys deserve it for their hard work and deep passion for heavy music, and of course don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel. As mentioned in the beginning of the review, Blood and Panic, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify and on sale from several locations like Apple Music and Amazon, is a solid and thrilling amalgamation of styles and subgenres of heavy music, beautifully celebrating the band’s devotion to all things metal and showing the world once again why (corrosive) Sweden has always been one of the most important and prolific countries in the history of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Fire from a Gun, Angry Me and Angel or a Beast.

Worst moments of the album: Terrified as I Die.

Released in 2019 BMP Records Sweden

Track listing
1. Fire from a Gun 3:31
2. Blood and Panic 3:13
3. Speed 3:39
4. Angry Me 5:24
5. Angel or a Beast 3:40
6. Terrified as I Die 5:04
7. Parasite 4:21
8. At the Top 3:57
9. Black Paint 3:37

Band members
Johan Bengtsson – vocals
Christer Ulander – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Peter Forss – guitar, backing vocals
Magnus Nordin – bass
Daniel Hedin – drums

Album Review – Amon Amarth / Berserker (2019)

Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with the Swedish Vikings of Heavy Metal.

My fellow Vikings, it’s time to grab your swords, axes, spears and shields and head into the battlefield once again to the sound of Berserker, the eleventh studio album by Swedish Melodic Death Metal horde Amon Amarth and a huge step forward in terms of energy and creativity if compared to their previous album Jomsviking, released in 2016. Not only that, Berserker is also the band’s first album to feature Jocke Wallgren on drums, who joined the band in 2016, bringing thunder to the compositions by frontman Johan Hegg and his loyal henchmen Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg on the guitars and Ted Lundström on bass.

Featuring another epic artwork by American artist Brent Elliott White, Berserker brings to our ears pure, straightforward Amon Amarth with no artificial elements, sounding very dense, cohesive and, above all, extremely entertaining from start to finish. Furthermore, while saying that Berserker is not a concept album, Johan Hegg also stated that “it’s also about sticking together in the face of adversity. Then there’s more introverted stuff, as well – songs that relate to my private life, and I got the ideas for those songs from my wife.” In the end, all song work really well, sounding connected albeit each one on its own when you listen to the album in full, therefore providing you a smooth and powerful experience only hardworking bands like Amon Amarth can offer.

The acoustic guitar by guest Javier Reyes (from Animals as Leaders) ignite the heavy and vibrant Fafner’s Gold, with Jocke showing why he became a permanent member of the band. In a nutshell, it’s classic Amon Amarth with an extra kick coming from the flammable riffs by Olavi and Johan Söderberg, while in Crack the Sky it’s time to bang our heads together with the band while Johan Hegg leads the horde with his raspy roars in a mid-tempo extravaganza tailored for enjoying a cold pint of mead. Then slashing guitar sounds kick off another hard-hitting tune named Mjölner, Hammer of Thor, which can’t get any more Viking than what it already is with its pounding beats, crisp guitar solos and Johan’s deep growls, turning it into a must-listen for all fans of the genre; followed by Shield Wall, a true battle hymn spearheaded by the band’s most fearful Viking, Mr. Johan Hegg, vociferating the song’s catchy and inspiring chorus powerfully (“War / Here to conquer, battle ready, no retreat / Vikings / Raise the shield wall / Hold the front line / Fight till death”). Needless to say, this can easily become a fan-favorite during their live concerts.

Let’s keep the fires of Viking Metal burning bright in Valkyria, showcasing a beautiful job done by the band’s guitar duo while Jocke nicely dictates the rhythm with his potent beats, ending with melancholic piano notes, whereas Raven’s Flight contains all elements we love in their music, those being of course heavy and electrifying riffs, nonstop beats and enraged roars. Not only that, it’s at the same time fast and neck-breaking just the way classic Melodic Death Metal demands, while Ted’s bass keeps rumbling in the background majestically. In Ironside we’re treated to accelerated beats intertwined with headbanging moments, exhaling epicness and power in a crushing display of Swedish Melodic Death Metal, setting the tone for The Berserker at Stamford Bridge, bringing forward a pensive and dark aura while the instrumental pieces represent all the obscurity that’s embracing the main character to perfection. Moreover, get ready for battle to the sound of Olavi’s and Johan Söderberg’s guitars, who shred their strings with a lot of passion and feeling.

When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails is another one of those creations by Johan Hegg and his crew overflowing epicness where all instruments are in perfect sync, therefore enhancing the song’s taste and impact (especially Jocke with his rhythmic and groovy beats); and putting the pedal to the metal Amon Amarth smash our heads in Skoll and Hati, a song about the two wolves from Norse mythology (“From the iron moors of Jotunheim / Arose two beasts of wrath innate / Skoll and Hati were their names / Born of Fenris, born of hate”), represented by the speed and fury flowing from drums and guitars, which are all Johan Hegg needs to deliver a beyond powerful vocal performance. There’s no sign of slowing down as Wings of Eagles is just as frantic and vibrant as its predecessor, sounding perfect for heading into the battlefield (also known as the circle pit) to the crushing beats by Jocke and the thunderous bass lines by Ted. And last but not least, Into the Dark is another good song by the band which, albeit sounding as epic as expected, goes on for a little too long (maybe it would have worked better with a few extra variations). Johan Hegg’s deep guttural vocals are amazing, though, as well as the song’s final moments.

Are your spears and swords sharp enough to join the most beloved and dauntless Vikings of Melodic Death Metal in their quest for metal music? Well, I bet after listening to Berserker, available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and on sale HERE (or HERE if you fancy some exclusive, ass-kicking bundles), you’ll be more than ready to head into the battlefield and give your life and blood together with Amon Amarth. Put differently, simply raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you in the name of Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Mjölner, Hammer of Thor, Shield Wall, Raven’s Flight and Skoll and Hati.

Worst moments of the album: Into the Dark.

Released in 2019 Metal Blade Records

Track listing
1. Fafner’s Gold 5:00
2. Crack the Sky 3:49
3. Mjölner, Hammer of Thor 4:42
4. Shield Wall 3:46
5. Valkyria 4:43
6. Raven’s Flight 5:20
7. Ironside 4:30
8. The Berserker at Stamford Bridge 5:13
9. When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails 4:24
10. Skoll and Hati 4:27
11. Wings of Eagles 4:03
12. Into the Dark 6:48

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

Guest musician
Javier Reyes – acoustic guitars on “Fafner’s Gold”

Album Review – Heavy Feather / Débris & Rubble (2019)

Get ready to rock to the debut album by four talented musicians of the Swedish Rock N’ Roll scene, bringing listeners back in time yet still offering hope about the future of rock music.

Four heavily talented musicians from the bands Siena Root, Lisa Lystam Family Band, Diamond Dogs, Stacie Collins and Mårran have decided to gather and create a heavy riff-based rock group highly influenced by the greats of the 60’s and 70’s such as Free, Cream and Lynyrd Skynyrd, with a strong belief that organic Roots Rock deserves more attention in today’s global rock scene. The final result of that fusion of talent and sheer passion for rock music is Stockholm, Sweden-based Hard Rock/ Rock N’ Roll act Heavy Feather, a hardworking and ambitious quartet that aims at bringing listeners back in time yet still offering hope about the future of rock music.

Comprised of the stunning Lisa Lystam on vocals and harmonica, Matte Gustavsson on the guitar, Morgan Korsmoe on bass and Ola Göransson on drums, Heavy Feather have just released their debut full-length album entitled Débris & Rubble, a must-have for admirers of the genre, and a fantastic gateway for anyone who’s still taking their first steps in the always exciting world of classic rock music. Throughout the 42 minutes of music split into 11 distinguished tracks found in Débris & Rubble, get ready to be mesmerized by an avalanche of heavy riffs, soaring vocal lines and classic rock passages, sounding raw, real and unique from start to finish, and therefore leaving you in absolute desire for more once the last song of the album is over.

The intro Débris & Rubble will already put you to dance with its groove, catchy beats and Lisa’s vocalizations and old school harmonica, warming up your senses for the fantastic Where Did We Go, where Matte is on absolute fire with his riffs and solos while Ola keeps the music flowing smoothly with his precise beats, not to mention how gorgeous Lisa’s vocal lines sound. In other words, this is a lesson in old school 70’s-inspired Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll, and we should all thank the band for providing our ears such amazing song. Then in Waited All My Life, another classic tune overflowing feeling and electricity, the band’s kitchen duo Morgan and Ola generate a rumbling and dense ambience perfect for Lisa to shine on vocals, turning it into a great option for hitting the road with your loved ones. And slowing things down a bit, Heavy Feather invest in a groovier and sexier sonority in Dreams, with Matte sounding like he’s in a trance or in a different dimension showcasing all his passion for his guitar, resulting in a great Rock N’ Roll song infused with Blues elements.

Higher (which official video live in Stockholm can be seen HERE) is a phenomenal Roots Rock composition by the quartet, elevating your spirit higher and higher while Ola pounds his drums beautifully, and with Matte’s soulful solo being the icing on the cake. Lisa’s harmonica returns to give an extra kick to the serene and touching ballad Tell Me Your Tale, where she will also soothe your soul with her vocals while Matte extracts simple, delicate sounds from his guitar in the most Blues-inspired way possible. If you think you can chain Lisa’s heart you’ve got another thing coming, because in Long Ride (which also has an official video live in Stockholm) she sings about uncompromising love (“Baby take me for the long ride / Oh, I want you to lose it / We can go by night time / Cus’ I love it when it’s spooky / Baby you don’t need to be my guy / We don’t need to be consistent / I love things that’s undefined / I like to keep a little distant”), with the music exhaling a 70’s sonority that’s beyond recommended for a strip-tease.

And the rock keeps on rolling in I Spend My Money Wrong, with Matte and Morgan being fast and metallic with their respective riffs and bass punches, dictating the rhythm in this old school rock feast. Put differently, simply grab a beer, relax and enjoy the song’s catchy vibe and sheer electricity, which also works for Hey There Mama, showcasing a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere where Lisa and Ola deliver incendiary performances, as well as Matte with his flammable guitar solo; and  fiery guitars and drums permeate the air in Please Don’t Leave, a solid tune by the quartet where Morgan and Ole’s passion for classic Blues becomes more than noticeable, with its second half morphing into a gentle and mesmerizing sonority until its classy finale. And lastly, a gorgeous and melancholic ballad entitled Whispering Things concludes the album on a high note, all embraced by Lisa’s delicate words (“I’m wandering all night and my bad conscious catch me / While I’m longing and hoping that maybe someday / Other times will me / I said I want things to be like they used to / You said if we could be real / I would marry you”), putting you in a delicious musical trance.

What are you waiting for to let your guard down and surrender to Lisa and her henchmen from Heavy Feather? You can follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their stylish rock music, and if Roots Rock is your cup of tea you should definitely purchase Débris & Rubble directly from BandCamp or from several other retailers by clicking HERE. After listening to such excellent album of Rock N’ Roll, I can tell you we can all rest assured the genre not only has a future, but that future is groovy, exciting and flammable, all thanks to those four skillful musicians hailing from Sweden.

Best moments of the album: Where Did We Go, Higher and Hey There Mama.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 The Sign Records

Track listing
1. Débris & Rubble 1:30
2. Where Did We Go 4:19
3. Waited All My Life 3:09
4. Dreams 3:44
5. Higher 2:43
6. Tell Me Your Tale 5:12
7. Long Ride 4:03
8. I Spend My Money Wrong 3:04
9. Hey There Mama 3:45
10. Please Don’t Leave 5:26
11. Whispering Things 4:58

Band members
Lisa Lystam – vocals, harmonica
Matte Gustavsson – guitars
Morgan Korsmoe – bass
Ola Göransson – drums

Interview – Through The Noise

It’s time for vocalist Jowl Nyberg and guitarist Marcus Skantz to make some noise in this fun interview where they talk about their excellent band Through The Noise and their brand new album Dualism .

Through The Noise

The Headbanging Moose: Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers? How would you define Through The Noise?

Jowl Nyberg: I’m Jowl and I’m the vocalist and one of the founders of the band. We’ve always struggled to define Through The Noise, at least genre-wise, since we’ve never tried to fit in to a specific genre. We’re just a couple of guys who enjoy heavy music and try our best to present our listeners with just that: heavy music. We play metal with a touch of hardcore, that’s as close as we can come when we try to define it.

Marcus Skantz: Marcus and one of the guitarist in the band. To me, Through The Noise is a high energetic with both a lot of aggression and big melodies.

THM: Your brand new album Dualism is a fun and electrifying feast of heavy and hardcore sounds, but also full of melody and very polished. How was the recording process of the album, and did everything go according to your original plan?

JN: We knew from the start that we wanted to work with Erik Wiss at Wiss Music Productions again, why change a winning concept, right!? He knows our sound and we love to work with him, he always pushes us towards perfection and has nice inputs on our work. Although this time around Marcus had joined the band and he have some recording skills and equipment that the rest of us don’t, so we decided to record only the vocals and drums at Wiss Music Productions. The guitars and bass tracks are recorded in Marcus bedroom and then mixed at Wiss Music Productions along with everything else.

We only had like two-three tracks to work with before we booked the studio, so the process to write the rest of the songs was pretty intense, but that’s the way we like it: we thrive under pressure! Marcus and I spent many late nights at his place during this period. This was a bit different than our last album ´Fall Of Gaia´ where we wrote all the songs together in our rehearsal space.

MS: We booked the studio to record our second album just a month after I joined the band by the end of the summer 2017. By then, we just had one finished song and two song ideas to work with but we really needed a sharp deadline to kick our selves in the butt and write some new music. Five months later we had nine songs pre prodded and ready to be recorded. Peter went to Erik at Wiss Music Production and tracked all drums by the end of February and then me, Victor and Martin had about a month to record all the guitars and bass in my home studio before we returned to Erik to finish with all the vocals. The whole recording process went great even though it resulted in many late nights in my home studio due to my day work plus me, Jowl and Peter participating in a short film project where I helped with all post editing of sound and effects.

Jowl Nyberg (Through The Noise)

THM: Which songs from Dualism do you think better represent the band, and do you think your fans get that message while listening to your music or while watching you guys play live?

JN: We’ve always strived for intense, energetic songs with catchy and melodic choruses and I’d say that we deliver on that with all the songs on ´Dualism´ but if I had to pick one, I’d go with Psychomachia. If one truly wants to experience Through The Noise though: live is the way to go!

THM: One of my favorite songs of the album, Maktbegär (which I believe means “lust for power” from Swedish), is the only one sung in your mother tongue. Why did you guys decide to record that specific song in Swedish? Is there a special reason behind that?

JN: You are quite right in your translation, it does indeed mean “lust for power”.

I’ve always wanted to try and write something in Swedish and this is something that I’ve dabbled (and struggled) with at home for some time. ´Maktbegär´ actually started out as a translation and my own interpretation of a song called ´Mercy Me´ by one of my favourite punk-rock bands ´Alkaline Trio´ that I made for fun. The more I worked with it, it turned into something completely different that was too good not to use and the first time Marcus showed me this song I just knew that it would fit like a glove. I’ve also always felt like our regional dialect “skånska” fits well with hardcore-type vocals.

THM: How did you guys invite local Swedish punk vocalist Jahna Lund (from Death By Horse) to sing in three songs from Dualism? She has an amazing voice and matched perfectly your music. Can we expect more of that type of partnership in your future releases?

JN: Jahna and her band ´Death By Horse´ are close personal friends of mine: I love their music and Jahna’s characteristic voice! We’ve joined each other on stage plenty of times and I love collaborations and features on records, so it felt natural to invite her to add another level to our work. On our last record ´Fall Of Gaia´ I did a similar thing with a friend from work for the song ´The Accursed´ which turned out great so it might be a recurring theme on our albums!

MS: Jahna is a personal friend to us and we asked her to do some vocals on Psychomachia. While writing the song Secret Project we realized we needed a lot of choirs so we thought that she could be part of that song as well. The day she was in Erik’s studio she listened to some of the songs that was finished and when she heard the track Beyond Betrayal she got some ideas she wanted to test and that’s how she ended up in three songs of the record.

You just never know! If we write a piece where we think her voice would fit, we would not hesitate on asking her to do some more guest vocals.

Marcus Skantz (Through The Noise)

THM: Do you consider yourselves a metal band with punk and hardcore influences, or a punk and hardcore band with metal influences? How are the more diehard fans from both sides reacting to your music?

JN: This is interesting because we’ve always felt like we’re “in between”, so to speak. We’ve been considered “not hardcore enough” for hardcore festivals as well as “not heavy enough” for metal festivals. This is both a blessing and a burden in my opinion, it makes us somewhat unique but at the same time it alienates us from some gigs and crowds. Since I come from the punkrock/hardcore-scene originally and most of the other guys are more metalheads it’s only natural that our music sounds like something in between and that’s what makes us who we are.

MS: If you ask me we are a metal band with punk and hardcore influences, but that is me coming mainly from a thrash and melodic death background and I write songs in a certain way. If you ask Jowl I bet he thinks of it the other way around. I don’t think it really matters. We are a metal/hardcore band and we blend many different kind of styles into the mix with the outcome that we sound like Through The Noise.

THM: How’s the local metal and hardcore scene in your hometown Lund, in the city of Malmö and in Sweden in general? Can you recommend some bands from the underground scene that you think our readers should take a listen at?

JN: We have a lot of great local bands but not a lot of places for them (us) to play, unfortunately. Most bands around here head for Germany, eastern Europe, the Balkans and so on since there are more places to play and bigger audiences. It’s like the old saying “Big In Japan”, many bands are huge in other countries and almost unknown back home in Sweden.

Eastern High (Progressive-Metal), The Generations Army (Thrash-Metal), Wolves Within (Melodic-Hardcore), Mörbultad (Hardcore in Swedish), Chine (Death/Groove-Metal), Escaping Amenti (Theatrical/Apocalyptic Metalcore), Faithful Darkness (Melodic death-metal), Pandemonium (Symphonic Black Death-Metal) just to name a few!

MS: Both in general and locally, we have a thriving metal and hardcore scene in Sweden with a lot of great underground and up-and-coming bands. Kill The Kong, Imminence, Eleine and Eastern High just to name a few. We have a long tradition of great hard rock, metal and hardcore bands coming from Sweden which inspires us all.

Album Review – Through The Noise / Dualism (2019)

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music, and what inspires you to write heavy music?

JN: My biggest influences when it comes to lyricwriting are Matt Skiba of ´Alkaline Trio´ and Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail. I tend to write deep, often melancholic, emotional and (at least to me) meaningful lyrics with a lot of metaphors that tells a story and I believe that I have these two gentlemen to thank for a lot of that! When it comes to my vocal style I guess Alexander Hagman of ´Raised Fist´, Andrew Neufeld of ´Comeback Kid´ and Tim McIlrath of ´Rise Against´ are some influences but also guys like Jake Luhrs of ´August Burns Red´. Other than that: playing and making heavy music is a great stress and anger release!

MS: My biggest influences comes from bands like Metallica, Pantera, Killswitch Engage and Machine Head in terms of how to build up a song, get the right groove and surprise or satisfy the listener. I often tries to write songs, riffs and so on that I myself would like to hear. I think it’s an honest way to treat the song and keep it real for both the listener and me as a composer.

THM: What about the future of the band? What can we expect from Through The Noise in the short and long term? And how are your tour plans going so far for the promotion of Dualism?

JN: We’re planning and hoping to take the band to the next level with this album! At the moment we are trying our best to book as many shows as possible for the rest of the year, at least, and after that we look forward to the process of making our next album! We’re here to stay and this is what we put all our effort into!

MS: In short term we are currently trying to book as many shows as possible with a fall of 2019 tour in the early planning stage. Of course we’re also planning for a follow up EP or full-length but since, while writing this, we have not released Dualism yet our focus right now is mainly on promoting the record and get out to play.

THM: Thanks you very much for your time! Please feel free to send your final considerations to our readers, to remind them where to buy your music, and anything else you would like to say.

JN: Thank you for taking an interest in our band! We would be very grateful if you visit and follow us on our social media pages and web shop (see links below), add our songs to your playlists and (of course) catch us live! This means the world to us and would really help us out!

Upcoming shows
May 4 @ Helltown Mini Festival at Jutan, Helsingborg, Sweden
June 7 @ Backstage Varberg, Varberg, Sweden

Links
Through The Noise Facebook | Intagram | Twitter | YouTube | Big Cartel | Spotify | iTunes | Amazon | Google Play | Deezer