Album Review – Eshtadur / Mother Gray (2017)

Overflowing rage, despair and electricity, the brand new album by this implacable Colombian act will certainly help the band cement their name in the Extreme Metal underground scene worldwide.

Formed in the fall of 2005 in Pereira, the capital city of the Colombian department of Risaralda, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Eshtadur has been on a roll since their inception, making a name for themselves in all four corners of the world with their unrelenting fusion of extreme sounds in the vein of bands such as At The Gates, Behemoth, Soilwork, Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh, always adding imposing and symphonic elements to their music to make it even more impactful to our ears. For instance, the band has already toured Colombia, Peru and Mexico, they headlined a stage at Rock Al Parque (which is not only the largest rock festival in Colombia and one of the most important in Latin America, but also arguably the largest free rock festival in the continent) in 2016, and they’re getting ready for their first ever US dates and many other festival appearances in the coming months.

Having already released the full-length albums Dominated by Dummies, in 2011, and Stay Away from Evil and Get Close to Me, in 2013, as well as their debut demo Rebellion of Angels, in 2007, and the EP Oblivion, in 2015, the band comprised of Jorg August on vocals and guitars, Alejo Bet on guitars, Victor Valencia on bass and Mauro Marin on drums is effectively expanding their exposure to the metal scene worldwide with their third full-length installment, the excellent Mother Gray, featuring a classy artwork designed by French artist Sylvain (Razorimages), guest guitar solos by Christofer Malmström (Darkane), and an endless amount of electricity and rage flowing from all their instruments, all led by the desperate growls by Jorg.

The heavy and dark guitars by Jorg and Alejo ignite the aggressive opening track Belong To Nowhere, a high-end fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Death and Melodic Death Metal where Mauro sounds possessed with his demonic blast beats while Jorg screams in a rabid and desperate manner throughout the entire song. Building an instant connection with the previous tune, Plaguemaker keeps the menacing aura crafted by the band even stronger, displaying a good balance of guitar lines, growls and potent drumming, while the keyboards in the background give it a Dimmu Borgir-inspired vibe; followed by the Melodic/Symphonic Metal aria Cornered At The Earth, where the band engages in their most sinister mode by deepening their growling and strengthening their beats, culminating in a violent and gripping rhythm boosted by its dark lyrics (“Gray the future and gray the earth / Dust in the soil, foil the religion / And the permanent conclusion of being the one who brings pest /Back to the world”). Whereas the Doom Metal-inspired Desolation brings forward a melancholic intro that slowly grows into an imposing sonority, as heavy and dense as it can be, with some faster moments to keep it fresh and vibrant. Moreover, the desperation flowing from the vocals is outstanding, going on and on until the song’s visceral ending to the sound of deep and putrid roars.

Getting back to a faster and more melodic sounding but still presenting the band’s characteristic symphonic elements, also showcasing fiery guitar riffs and solos as well as total havoc blasted by Mauro’s insane beats, the powerful Time Hole To Paris will certainly generate some sick mosh pits during their live concerts, while in March Of The Fallen we face an epic and somewhat funereal beginning to yet another ominous creation by Eshtadur, an eccentric “waltz” of Dark Metal with its keyboards and vocals taking the obscurity to a whole new level, again presenting more of those putrid gnarls before all is said and done. And as their “formula” seems to be one Stygian song followed by a sonic demolition, it’s time to speed things up again with the high-octane chant The Day After I Die, presenting slashing guitars blended with epic keys and rabid growls, without a single second of peace during its five minutes of sheer devastation.

As the first bonus track added by Eshtadur to Mother Gray, we have another symphonic extravaganza that will attack our senses named Heavens to The Ground (originally released in their 2015 EP Oblivion), with the guitars by Jorg and Alejo and the drumming by Mauro being in absolute sync, while the song’s keys make sure the atmosphere remains eerie for the otherworldly vociferations by Jorg.  The second bonus offered by the band is entitled Last Day Of The Condors, also from their EP Oblivion, sounding slightly similar to its predecessor (in special its guitar and vocal lines), not as tasty but still very enjoyable. And lastly we have a very cohesive, potent and fresh version they recorded in 2014 for Survivor’s hit Burning Heart (check out the original version HERE) featuring guest musicians Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork) and Christopher Clancy (Mutiny Within) on vocals, and Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) and Allan Marcus (Arecibo) on lead guitars. Survivor might be better known by the usual rocker for the all-time Rocky Balboa-classic “Eye of the Tiger”, but this song also represents all the passion Survivor had for rock music, not to mention this cover version is Eshtadur’s own tribute to Survivor’s longtime frontman Jimi Jamison (R.I.P.), who died of a heart attack in September 2014.

If you enjoyed all the fury blasted by Eshtadur in Mother Gray, I highly recommend you go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for more of their kick-ass music, and if you want to purchase Mother Gray (which you can listen in its entirety on Spotify), you can grab your copy of the album at the Bleeding Music Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes, on Amazon, or at several other locations such as Barnes & Noble and ImportCDs. As mentioned in the beginning of this review, Mother Gray overflows rage, despair and energy, and as you’re more than aware of, those are some of the main elements which make us love Heavy Metal so much. In other words, Eshtadur nailed it with Mother Gray, surely making all metalheads in Colombia proud of their music.

Best moments of the album: Belong To Nowhere, Cornered At The Earth and Time Hole To Paris.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Music Records

Track listing
1. Belong To Nowhere 3:27
2. Plaguemaker 4:28
3. Cornered At The Earth 5:01
4. Desolation 6:50
5. Time Hole To Paris 5:21
6. March Of The Fallen 7:32
7. The Day After I Die 5:06

Oblivion/Burning Heart bonus tracks
8. Heavens to The Ground 3:26
9. Last Day Of The Condors 3:15
10. Burning Heart (Survivor cover) 4:33

Band members
Jorg August – vocals, guitars
Alejo Bet – guitars
Victor Valencia – bass
Mauro Marin – drums

Guest musician
Christofer Malmström – guitar solos

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Album Review – Rapheumets Well / Enders Door (2017)

Enjoy the third and final installment of the saga of the Atai in the form of a thirteen-song Sci-Fi opera of Symphonic and Progressive Black Metal.

After the releases of the first and second parts of a trilogy about the complex saga of the Atai (ancient architects), who aid in the propagation of sentient life throughout the multi-verse, those being the full length albums Dimensions, from 2014, and The Exile, from 2016, American Symphonic/Progressive Black Metal warriors Rapheumets Well return now in 2017 with the third and final installment of this musical saga, Enders Door, a thirteen-song science fantasy opera in the form of Symphonic Metal. Although this relentless North Carolina-based squad suffered a few lineup changes from their previous release, such as the departure of lead singer Tripp King (being replaced by the insanely talented growler Jeb Laird), their music remains bold, visceral and ominous, perfect to give a climatic ending to such compelling story.

And do you want to know what happens in Enders Door while the entire band is kicking some serious ass with their flammable instruments? Well, this is what Rapheumets Well will tell you: in the fifth era of the Avomenian Empire, amidst the planetary ruins of Vaath, a rogue traveler would discover an artifact that would forever change his place in the cosmos. Upon arriving to retrieve the artifact, it became apparent that Eryos’ brother Nathyiem would never make it to their arranged meeting point.  In departing from the planet Vaath, Eryos received a distress signal from his brother’s ship, coming from an uncharted planet.  Upon arriving, he found an odd world inhabited by a mysterious species called the Dreth led by lecherous matriarch named Eishar.  It is here that he would uncover a faced-door, an inter-dimensional gateway to the Ender.

In the opening track, titled The Traveler, we face an eerie, cinematic start to the album, transporting us to the world of Rapheumets Well by blending the finesse of keyboards and choir with devastating blast beats, before Jeb begins growling like a beast; followed by Distress on the Aberrant Planet, where the brutality led by the band’s mastermind Joshua “Nasaru” Ward on drums is effectively complemented by the keyboards by Annette Greene, while guitarists Brett Lee and Hunter Ross make sure they add the world “metal” to the music. The Autogenous Extinction offers the listener more demolishing, ominous sounds crafted by this unstoppable band, resulting in high-end Symphonic Black Metal with hints of Blackened Death Metal for admirers of the music by Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth, with Annette bringing balance to the sonic havoc with her smooth vocals. And in Secrets of the Demigods we’re treated to another great “duel” between Annette and Joshua, a true clash of delicate vocals and bestial beats, all embraced by a dark and dense background enhanced by classic guitar riffs and solos.

Then we have one of the longest and most complex of all tracks, Lechery Brought the Darkness, with its semi-acoustic intro suddenly exploding into sheer Symphonic Black Metal, with the paradox of voices between Annette with her angelic vocals and Jeb with his rabid gnarls sounding incredible from start to finish; and the title-track Enders Door, a fantastic tune showcasing a phantasmagorical background, extreme violence flowing form Joshua’s drums, and crushing guitar lines by both Brett and Hunter, perfectly depicting the traveler’s quest in the form of top-tier metal. In Prisoner of the Rift, they keep a menacing aura upon us with a fusion of Symphonic Metal with acoustic and even folk elements, creating a unique sonority led by the gentle voice of Annette, whereas The Diminished Strategist kicks off in full force, being an amazing representation of modern and intense Black Metal. Furthermore, the song’s keyboards sound mesmerizing when combined with the clean vocals by both Annette and Joshua, with the huge amount of progressiveness added to the music amidst all the sonic chaos going on resulting in an eccentric music voyage.

Nastarian Waltz works as a whimsical bridge to the imposing and epic Ghost Walkers Exodus, where Joshua continues to impress on drums with his nonstop beats and fills in a flawless combination of progressiveness, symphonic elements and the most devastating form of Black Metal. Put differently, this song alone sounds so complete it is already worth the investment on the album. On the other hand, Killing the Colossus, despite being another solid creation by Rapheumets Well, is not as gripping as the other songs of the album. Its guitars and keyboards in a dark sync help boost the song’s taste though, not to mention the obscure vociferations by Jeb. Lastly, after a piano-guided atmospheric bridge titled Eishar’s Lament, it’s time for the closing track of the album, the sinister Unveiling the Sapient, with Joshua once again pulverizing everything and everyone with his drums while Brett and Hunter deliver some Technical Death Metal-inspired guitar lines and solos, culminating in a sensational conclusion for this awesome Sci-Fi story.

What are you waiting for to dive into the metallic world of Rapheumets Well? You can buy your copy of Enders Door at the Test Your Metal Records’ BandCamp or Big Cartel, as well as on iTunes or Amazon, and remember you can also get online the first two installments of this heavy and gripping trilogy, such as HERE and HERE. I honestly don’t know what’s next for Rapheumets Well, if they’ll start a new trilogy with a whole different story, if they’ll release a regular album, or maybe even release a prequel to this existing trilogy. One thing is certain: no matter what their next step is, we can rest assured Joshua and his bandmates will certainly blow our minds once again with their multi-layered metal music.

Best moments of the album: Distress on the Aberrant Planet, Enders Door and Ghost Walkers Exodus.

Worst moments of the album: Killing the Colossus.

Released in 2017 Test Your Metal Records

Track listing
1. The Traveler 4:39
2. Distress on the Aberrant Planet 3:57
3. The Autogenous Extinction 4:45
4. Secrets of the Demigods 4:40
5. Lechery Brought the Darkness 6:39
6. Enders Door 6:35
7. Prisoner of the Rift 2:58
8. The Diminished Strategist 5:36
9. Nastarian Waltz 1:13
10. Ghost Walkers Exodus 5:41
11. Killing the Colossus 5:58
12. Eishar’s Lament 1:18
13. Unveiling the Sapient 7:21

Band members
Jeb Laird – lead vocals
Annette Greene – clean vocals, keyboards
Brett Lee – guitar
Hunter Ross – guitar
Joshua “Nasaru” Ward – drums, clean vocals

Album Review – Cradle of Filth / Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (2017)

UK’s most visionary and hellish outfit returns with another blast of malignancy and eroticism in the form of the twelfth studio album in their undisputed career.

After their 2015 majestic and imposing album Hammer Of The Witches, British Extreme Metal institution Cradle of Filth had the arduous task of maintaining such high level of malignancy, electricity and eroticism in their brand new opus, stylishly titled Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, the twelfth studio album in their undisputed career. Despite not being as fantastic and cohesive as its predecessor, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay still brings forward the classic sound by Cradle of Filth we all learned to love through the years, solidifying even more their already distinguished reputation among fans of extreme music.

The band’s iconic mastermind and vocalist Dani Filth said the album “is deeply infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that.’Cryptoriana’ implies the Victorians’ infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the ghoulish. And the subtitle, ‘The Seductiveness of Decay’, further cements this attraction to death and the glittering lengthy process of self-annihilation”. In addition to that, one very interesting fact about Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is that this is their second album in a row with the exact same lineup, which for an ever-changing band like Cradle of Filth is a huge milestone. The artwork was also created by the same artist from Hammer Of The Witches, Latvian designer Arthur Berzinsh, and form that you can have a very good idea of how similar both albums are visually and musically speaking, although as aforementioned the band had an almost impossible mission to surpass Hammer Of The Witches in regards to its exceptional quality.

Exquisite Torments Await can be considered a 2-minute “expanded” intro, showcasing demented and dark noises together with the band’s characteristic melody and potency, already bringing forward their usual blast beats and devilish orchestrations. Well, Dani’s first high-pitched scream says it all. The following tune, the first single of the album titled Heartbreak and Séance, kicks off at full speed with the gentle but powerful guitars by both Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda bringing balance to the havoc led by the flammable Dani and the insanely talented drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka. In other words, it’s classic and modern Cradle of Filth united in a solid and exciting manner (and don’t forget to check the uncensored version for its official video, it’s definitely worth it). And in Achingly Beautiful, an esoteric beginning quickly explodes into Cradle of Filth’s unique Black Metal, feeling like two or three songs in one due to its complexity and all breaks and variations, with the keyboards by Canadian beauty Lindsay Schoolcraft generating an amazing vibe in the background, not to mention her always pleasant backing vocals.

The main riff in Wester Vespertine reminds me of some of the guitar lines from their 1998 cult album Cruelty and the Beast, more specifically from the classic “Thirteen Autumns and a Widow”, proving Dani knows how to blend the past, present and future of his band in a very cohesive manner. Moreover, Marthus continues his sonic onrush with his potent and unstoppable beats and fills, enhancing the song’s potency considerably. Then it’s time for Richard and Ashok to lead the epic intro in The Seductiveness of Decay, before the band speeds up the pace delivering a neck-breaking, smashing tune tailored for both old school fans and newcomers to the world of Cradle of Filth. Dani has an absolutely flammable performance with his demonic growls and screeches, with the music becoming a symphonic devastation halfway through it with highlights to the awesome solos by Richard and Ashok. And featuring Liv Kristine as a guest vocalist (turning it into some sort of “beauty and the beast” duo with Dani), Vengeful Spirit maintains the album at a high level of seductiveness, vileness and darkness, with Marthus being totally diabolical on drums whereas Lindsay continues to deliver delicate and whimsical key notes to bring more balance to the music.

Despite bringing the trademark wicked lyrics by Dani (“Purring the sweet tempered soughing / Of lucrative Savannah wind / Stirs the great flotsam of clouds that are vowing / To usher the evening in / Affecting the set of the reckoning sun / From burnished gold to crimson hue / Before this night is quite sorely undone / The Devil is coming for you”), You Will Know the Lion by His Claw doesn’t sound as inspired as the rest of the album, presenting generic guitar lines and no gripping moments at all; whereas a beyond imposing beginning, full of symphonic elements, opens the gates of hell for Dani and his bandmates to blast the mysterious and funereal tune Death and the Maiden. Furthermore, a somber shadow remains above the band from start to finish, with Dani spearheading the musicality with his satanic growls, while Marthus and Lindsay craft a truly powerful atmosphere with their respective beats and keys until the song’s hellish finale.

And if I were you I would certainly go for the special edition of the album, which contains two amazing bonus tracks that are worth your additional investment. The first one, named The Night at Catafalque Manor, brings more of Cradle of Filth’s renowned Symphonic Black Metal, with highlights to its amazing orchestrations and the rumbling bass lines by Daniel Firth. Then closing the limited edition we have a flawless cover version for Annihilator’s biggest classic Alison Hell (if you’re from another planet and has never listened to the original version, you can take a shot at it HERE), from their 1989 cult album Alice in Hell. This is indeed a superb tribute to this Canadian institute, and Dani simply nailed it like what he did in the past with other all-time metal hits like Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, Slayer’s “Hell Awaits” and Venom’s “Black Metal”.

Dani and his Cradle of Filth still have a lot of fire to burn in their career, and Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is a strong statement that they’re still relevant to the world of heavy music, being capable of producing excellent material year after year. Simply visit Nuclear Blast’s official webstore to pick your version of the brand new album by UK’s most visionary and hellish outfit in the history of extreme music, and be more than prepared for when Dani and his devilish horde take your city by storm with their live performances (if they haven’t done so yet).

Best moments of the album: Heartbreak and Séance, The Seductiveness of Decay and Alison Hell.

Worst moments of the album: You Will Know the Lion by His Claw.

Released in 2017 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Exquisite Torments Await 2:15
2. Heartbreak and Séance 6:24
3. Achingly Beautiful 7:02
4. Wester Vespertine 7:24
5. The Seductiveness of Decay 7:38
6. Vengeful Spirit (feat. Liv Kristine) 6:00
7. You Will Know the Lion by His Claw 7:22
8. Death and the Maiden 8:48

Limited Edition Digipak/Vinyl bonus tracks
9. The Night at Catafalque Manor 7:31
10. Alison Hell (Annihilator cover) 5:01

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Guest musician
Liv Kristine – female vocals on “Vengeful Spirit”

Album Review – Katharos XIII / Negativity (2017)

After the 56 minutes of intense and pensive Depressive Suicidal Black Metal thoroughly crafted by this Romanian quartet reach deep into your soul, you’ll never be the same again.

Born in 2007 in the city of Timișoara, the main social, economic and cultural centre in western Romania located around 550km northwest of the capital Bucharest, and functioned in the early days as a one-man band until de beginning of the recordings of the demo Silver Melancholy in late 2008, self-released in 2009, Depressive Suicidal Black Metal act Katharos XIII return after their 2011 debut Dead Emotions with their second full-length installment, titled Negativity, comprised of seven tracks emerged from the dark chambers of human psyche, questions and deep melancholy into black chords, a truly unique combination of different layers and influences.

Featuring a somber artwork by Romanian artist Alexandru Das (Argus Megere, North, Ordinul Negru), Negativity offers the listener an amalgamation of personal experiences (all kinds of abuse, paranoia, severe depressions), strange stories, movies (Greenaway, Lynch) and books (Eliade, Cioran, Zola), all thoroughly put together by the talented F on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Andrei on guitars, SQ on bass and Sabbat on drums, resulting in a unique experience of extreme music for admirers of the genre. And if you feel your heart got darker after listening to the album’s 56 minutes of intense and pensive Black Metal, that means Katharos XIII succeeded in sending you the desired message through their disturbing music.

Opening the album on a high note we have XIII, a modern approach to Black Metal sounding very melodic and epic thanks to the excellent guitars by F and Andrei, with the devilish gnarls by F bringing more obscurity to the overall result. Moreover, its riffs get to a very traditional mode halfway through it, while the song’s atmosphere keeps growing in intensity and mystery, flowing to an ominous ending led by the demonic vociferations by F. Slightly different than its predecessor, the title-track Negativity goes full Black Metal, overflowing blast beats, flammable riffs and infernal growls, also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal and Doom Metal, not to mention its disturbing lyrics (“Burn in the kingdom of the blind / A garden that cannot be seen / By the ones who ignore the creation / The path of the eternal self-torment”) and its beyond somber break.

The steady beats by Sabbat together with the darkened keys by F create a truly somber ambience in No One Left to Lead the Way, a perfect fusion of Black Metal with Blackened Doom supported by a strong harmonious background, flowing into a smooth but very obscure ending; followed by The Chains are so Beautiful, where a melancholic and grim beginning led by Sabbat with his sluggish beats and bassist SQ with his low-tuned roars gradually leans towards old school Doom Metal, supporting the very macabre spoken words by F (“I will tell you a story / Stories as we all like to hear / The amphetamine has won the game / Enslaving the pain inside soul / Close your eyes and sleep tight / While the angels watch you closely / Nothing bad to happen to you / Only to fall into their arms”), before exploding into visceral and deranged Black Metal until its introspective finale.

Spearheaded by the piercing riffs by Andrei, World’s Coffin sounds like a blackened waltz, with F grasping his words bestially, blending old school Black Metal with contemporary Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir. Furthermore, the bass by SQ keeps rumbling in a demonic way in the background, topped with a soulful solo by Andrei. I Die Everytime I Walk This Path brings forward a serene and contemplative intro, generating a comforting but at the same time perturbing ambience where F instead of growling simply grasps in a vile manner. Not only that, tempestuous moments are thoroughly inserted in this Blackened Doom aria, with the beautiful work done by Andrei and SQ with their strings taking you to a dark dimension ruled by Katharos XIII. Lastly, closing this amazing album of extreme music the band offers a darkened assault titled Inside, with Sabbat pounding his drums vigorously while Andrei blasts straightforward demonic riffs, reaching an epic and reverberating stage before the song’s climatic and violent conclusion.

In other words, are you prepared to have your mortal soul embraced in the endless darkness crafted by Katharos XIII? If you can’t wait for that to happen, then you should definitely visit Katharos XIII on Facebook to know more about this distinct Romanian band, and purchase your copy of Negativity through the Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webshop, as well as at Discogs. As mentioned before, after listening to Negativity, you’ll never be the same again, and all you’ll have to do is to thank this amazing Romanian quartet for such unique experience of dark and mournful sounds.

Best moments of the album: XIII, Negativity and World’s Coffin.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. XIII 9:50
2. Negativity 6:13
3. No One Left to Lead the Way 6:24
4. The Chains are so Beautiful 8:21
5. World’s Coffin 5:58
6. I Die Everytime I Walk This Path 12:03
7. Inside 7:16

Band members
F – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Andrei – guitars
SQ – bass
Sabbat – drums

Album Review – Karkaos / Children Of The Void (2017)

As we’re all the children of the void, let’s raise our horns and bang our heads to the superb new album by one of the most reputable and celebrated metal acts hailing from the beautiful province of Quebec.

Founded by guitarist Vincent Harnois in the year of 2003 under the name Sinister Vengeance, Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore outfit Karkaos soon evolved into one of the most reputable and celebrated metal acts hailing from the stunning city of Montreal, located in the province of Quebec, in Canada. Melodic yet heavy, this unstoppable female-fronted band is unleashing upon the earth their brand new full-length installment, titled Children Of The Void, which features new frontwoman Viky Boyer, drummer Justine Ethier (Blackguard) and lead guitarist Samael Pelletier (Aeon’s Fall), and let me tell you that all these lineup changes were extremely positive to the band and to their sound, especially if you’re a fan of the music by bands such as Epica, In Flames, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth.

Featuring an elegant artwork by the immensely talented Colombian artist and designer Marcela Bolívar, as well as collaborations with guest artists Lindsay Schoolcraft from Cradle of Filth and Morgan Lander from Kittie, Children Of The Void offers the listener a considerably different sonority from the band’s previous albums, the 2011 EP In Burning Skies and the 2014 full-length release Empire, sounding more symphonic, imposing and polished than before. “We have been working hard for a long time to be able to give you an album that combines beautiful melodies to our own symphonic signature, groovy and brutal riffs to intensity as well as catchy choruses”, comments the band’s mastermind Vincent about Children Of The Void, and let’s say his “summary” of the album was spot-on to depict all the beauty and aggressiveness found in its 12 amazing compositions.

The cinematic intro Babel leads us to the symphonic and metallic world of Karkaos before the explosive Skymaster hits us with heaviness and might from its very first second in a perfect fusion of the music played by Arch Enemy with Dimmu Borgir and Nightwish. Furthermore, pay attention to the precision of Justine behind her drums and to the song’s powerful chorus (“All hope is gone, I scream at heavens / This is not yet the end! / Brothers and sisters moan, I howl / Truth will prevail!”), as well as to the amazing Viky, who steals the show with her superb vocal performance. The following tune, Kolossòs, is a song tailored for breaking your neck in half due to the passionate vocals by Viky, its thunderous riffs and bass lines, and the infinite epicness that permeates the atmosphere. This is a newborn underground Melodic Death Metal classic showcasing mighty lyrics (“Kolossòs! The earth has spoken! / To the sun, you were reaching! / Kolossòs! The earth has shaken! / On the ground eternally, you’ll be laying!”) and the awesome guest vocals by Kittie’s Morgan Lander, as previously mentioned.

Let The Curtains Fall ventures through the realms of Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir, but with a more melodic twist thanks to the potent keys by Sébastien Belanger-Lapierre while Vincent and Samael add their share of heaviness to the overall musicality; whereas Pale, one of the fastest and heaviest of all songs, is a brutal composition by Karkaos where the colorful-haired Viky is absolutely on fire while the other band members deliver amazing metal music, in special Justine with her potent beats and once again Sébastien and his cinematic keyboards. And their onrush of epicness goes on in the title-track Children of the Void, which will inspire you for some intense headbanging due to its accelerated pace, with Vincent, Samael and bassist Eddy Levitsky (who recently left the band) blasting sheer electricity through their strings, all spearheaded by the unstoppable Justine.

Then it’s time for Rêverie, an epic bridge that rises in intensity and mystery until it reaches the form of the sensational Tyrants, a first-class Melodic Death Metal hymn with tons of symphonic elements to increase its obscurity and potency flawlessly delivered by all band members, with Viky beautifully growling like a she-demon, not to mention her also amazing clean vocals during the more melodic parts of the song.  And changing a bit their style and sonority, they offer a very interesting and gripping song named Where Mushrooms Grow, sounding very harmonious, melancholic and dense, perfect for singing along its catchy chorus with the band (“Fields of sorrow / Where mushrooms grow / All trees, all hollow / We reap what we sow / Fields of chaos / Where mushrooms grow / Fading as we cross / Forgetting what we know”). This is indeed a side of Karkaos I would love to see them exploring more in their future releases so captivating it sounds.

But the band obviously has more of their fast-paced metal to offer like what we see in Lightbearer, another solid composition showcasing beautiful vocal lines, thunderous riffs and bass lines and a rhythmic drumming. In my humble opinion, this song would sound simply superb with a full orchestra accompanying the band in the background, don’t you agree? Anyway, in The Beast, Vincent and Samael fire their cutting riffs while Sébastien is responsible for the epicness in the background, sounding highly inspired by contemporary Arch Enemy and The Agonist and also highlighting the excellent job done by Justine on drums, adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. Closing this amazing album of contemporary metal we have Bound by Stars, which sounds a bit generic and doesn’t keep up with the rest of the album, despite its purpose being to sound more complete and introspective than the other tracks. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to enjoy in the song, such as the perfect vocal lines by Viky and the powerful performances by Justine and Sébastien with their instruments.

If you also consider yourself a “child of the void”, you can join Karkaos in their quest for Melodic Death Metal by following them on Facebook, listening to their fiery music on YouTube, and buy Children Of The Void at their BandCamp page, on Amazon or on CD Baby. Children Of The Void is undoubtedly going to be among the best releases of 2017 not only in Canada but also worldwide, and the band more than deserves that due to their commitment to their work and passion for melodic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Kolossòs, Pale, Tyrants and Where Mushrooms Grow.

Worst moments of the album: Bound by Stars.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Babel 1:13
2. Skymaster 3:50
3. Kolossòs 4:32
4. Let The Curtains Fall 4:34
5. Pale 4:04
6. Children of the Void 4:45
7. Rêverie 0:59
8. Tyrants 4:26
9. Where Mushrooms Grow 4:19
10. Lightbearer 4:20
11. The Beast 4:20
12. Bound by Stars 6:49

Band members
Viky Boyer – lead vocals
Vincent Harnois – guitars, vocals
Samael Pelletier – lead guitars
Eddy Levitsky – bass
Sébastien Belanger-Lapierre – keyboards
Justine Ethier – drums

Guest musicians
Morgan Lander – additional vocals on “Kolossòs”
Lindsay Schoolcraft – backing vocals

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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!

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

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Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Scenario II / A New Dawn (2017)

There’s a new dawn rising in the world of melodic extreme music thanks to a talented Dutch sextet who will guide you through dark scenarios of a post-apocalyptic world in their new album.

Rating4

s2_and_front_hrOriginating from Eindhoven, a city in the province of North Brabant in the south Netherlands known as the birthplace of Philips electronics, Melodic Dark Death/Thrash Metal act Scenario II aims at crafting distinguished heavy music for fans of the genre, always bringing spherical melodies fashioned with the frequent use of female vocals, grunts, twin guitars, quick riffs and killer drums. Inspired by bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir and Amorphis, the band will guide you through dark scenarios of a post-apocalyptic world in their new album, titled A New Dawn, comprised of eleven full-bodied compositions showcasing all the refined skills of each musician involved.

Since their inception in 2006 from the ashes of another Dutch band named Aura, Scenario II have acquired excellent recognition in the underground of metal music, with very positive reviews stemming from their debut album Uniforms of Death, released in 2009. That considerable success led the band to share the stage with renowned acts such as Volbeat, Dark Tranquillity, Anathema, Testament, Trail of Tears and Moonspell, among others, energizing the band to keep moving forward and keep writing new material for their fans, therefore culminating with the release of A New Dawn. In addition to that, Scenario II might be one of the most democratic bands in the world of heavy music, having three men and three women in their lineup, proving once again that it doesn’t matter your gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation, you are always welcome in heavy music.

The ominous and cinematic intro The Darkest Hour introduces us to the post-apocalyptic landscape proposed by the band, with the title-track A New Dawn and its metallic guitars a la Terminator by Mark van Doren and Simone van Straten, together with the harsh growls by Bas de Kruyff and the angelic voice of Myrthe van Beest, generating a modern Melodic Death Metal feast with Symphonic and Black Metal elements that will please all types of metalheads in the world. Supremacy begins in an atmospheric way, with the growls by Bas de Kruyff giving a nice touch of aggressiveness to the musicality while bassist Liza Hoek and drummer Bas van den Boom maintain a thunderous sound in the background; followed by the heavy Awake, a visceral Melodic Death Metal tune with the gentle vocals by Myrthe bringing harmony to the music.Moreover, both Mark and Simone have excellent performances with their sharp riffs, which together with the electronic and symphonic elements, as well as the song’s hellish atmosphere, make it one of the best of the album.

scenarioii_largeRapture follows the aggressive path of its predecessor, being a dense composition showcasing elements of Melodic Death Metal, Symphonic Black Metal and sheer Black Metal, in special its guitar lines, with Bas van den Boom being once again very technical behind his drums, never letting the energy level go down. Then we have the serene, atmospheric instrumental bridge The Promised Wasteland, building a direct link with Hysteria, an epic and symphonic creation by Scenario II, bursting despair and anger through the potent screams by Bas de Kruyff, with the vocals by Myrthe bringing yet again peace to our souls. And flirting with old school Death Metal we have Endgame, again displaying a solid performance by Bas van den Boom on drums, who together with Mark and Simone fire tons of progressiveness through their instruments, enhancing the song’s taste and electricity, not to mention all its breaks and variations which help turn it into the best of all songs in my opinion.

The whole album exhales rage and hopelessness, and in Disclosure it couldn’t be different than that, with Bas de Kruyff and Myrthe being in great sync complementing each other’s vocals, while Liza blasts her bass guitar in a delicate but powerful way. In Nocturnal, we face a heavy and flammable sonority thanks to the guitars by Mark and Simone, as well as the rhythmic and blast beats by Bas van den Boom; and it doesn’t matter how fast or slow the music is, the band always keeps a sinister and obscure atmosphere in the background. Last but not least, the ferocious but very melodic Stand Ablaze, a climatic ending to a very professional and exciting metal album, blends the harmony of Melodic Death Metal with the potency of Epic Metal, with Bas de Kruyff leading the musicality with his precise growls.

There’s a new dawn rising in the world of melodic extreme music thanks to this talented Dutch sextet, and if you want to know more about Scenario II you can visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud. You can grab your copy of A New Dawn at the band’s official webshop in digital or physical format, as well as through their BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. The post-apocalyptic music blasted by Scenario II in A New Dawn keeps up with the legacy of Dutch metal, being harmonious, heavy and gripping at the same time, and it will surely maintain their inner fire burning for more amazing music in the following years, which is always what we want to see when the band in question is as talented as this up-and-coming squad.

Best moments of the album: A New Dawn, Awake and Endgame.

Worst moments of the album: Supremacy.

Released in 2017 Hysteria Music

Track listing
1. The Darkest Hour 2:09
2. A New Dawn 5:16
3. Supremacy 4:12
4. Awake 4:06
5. Rapture 4:46
6. The Promised Wasteland 1:48
7. Hysteria 5:11
8. Endgame 5:19
9. Disclosure 5:32
10. Nocturnal 4:30
11. Stand Ablaze 4:04

Band members
Myrthe van Beest – female vocals
Bas de Kruyff – vocals
Mark van Doren – guitars
Simone van Straten – guitars
Liza Hoek – bass
Bas van den Boom – 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:

Official website
Twitter
Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Mustan Kuun Lapset / Saatto (2017)

A fresh new start for an amazing Dark Metal band from Finland, with their renovated attitude and passion for heavy music translated into nine excellent compositions blending different styles and emotions.

Rating4

mkl_saatto_coverart2500pisLegendary Finnish Dark Metal group Mustan Kuun Lapset, which is Finnish for “Children of the Black Moon”, have finally resurrected from the depths of abyss since ending their career in 2007, setting to release in 2017 their first official full-length album since their 2011 compilation 14 Talvea and their 2007 album Viimeinen Laulu Kuolemasta. And their brand new album, entitled Saatto (the Finnish word for “procession” or “follow-through”), not only brings forward MKL’s new lineup, but it’s also a fresh new beginning for this talented band, with their renovated attitude and passion for heavy music translated into nine excellent compositions blending different styles of Extreme Metal.

Founded in the city of Hollola under the name Häiriö (or “disorder” in Finnish) in the distant year of 1993, MKL recorded a few garage tapes during their first couple of years, never releasing them to the public. In 1996, after changing the name to Mustan Kuun Lapset, the band released their first demo titled Kunnes Loppuu Yö, being on a roll for the next decade before it was time to close the coffin in December 2007 due to lack of time and commitment. Fortunately for fans of their dark music, in 2015 MKL decided to start all over again, now hailing from the city of Lahti and as already mentioned with a reformulated lineup, culminating with the release of their brand new diverse, many-sided record Saatto, and I’m sure even if you have absolutely zero knowledge of the Finnish language you’ll have a blast listening to it.

Right after the atmospheric intro Ja Toinen Yötä Rakastaa, or “and another night love”, we have the melodious Peikonmieli (“the troll’s mind”), with the soulful guitar lines by Pete Lehtinen and Heikki Piipari dictating the song’s very pleasant pace and sonority, whereas the harsh vocals by Pete sound like a blend of Symphonic Black Metal and Melodic Death Metal. And the aura generated by the first song goes on in Kuolemanvirta (“death power”), where drummer Mikko Hautala showcases his abilities by being fierce and melodic at the same time with his darkened Doom Metal beats.

An obscure start announces another epic and powerful composition by MKL, Amor Vincit Omnia, which is Latin for “love conquers all”, with Pete doing an amazing job not only on vocals and guitars but also with his synths, delivering a rousing musicality with hints of Scandinavian Folk Metal full of variations and tempo changes. Cilice brings forward more folk elements, gently morphing into Dark Metal with Pete firing some deeper guttural growls amidst his harsh gnarls, all embraced by the band’s solid instrumental, while Sudenilma (“wolf’s air”) offers the listener heavier, headbanging riffs that lean towards pure Melodic Death Metal from Scandinavia. In addition, Mikko delivers faster beats nicely complemented by the bass lines by Ville Pelkonen, not to mention the song’s outstanding guitar solo as the icing on the cake.

mkl_promokuvaValkoinen Satama – Haaksi (“white haven – the ship”) is the first part of a two-piece story, epic and metallic from the very first second thanks to the awesome job done by both guitarists with Pete getting a lot darker on vocals. The second part of this journey, titled Valkoinen Satama – Tyven (“white haven – calm”), is a smooth, melancholic acoustic ballad wtih female vocals that end up providing a good balance to all the obscurity from the first part, an interesting variation to the MKL we’re used to. And closing the album we have the title-track Saatto, also the longest of all tracks, which begins in an introspective way, as calm and serene as the previous track, suddenly exploding into kick-ass modern Melodic Death Metal. In this multilayered composition, MKL bring forth cleaner vocals and plenty of epicness flowing from all instruments, in special the precise beats by Mikko, until the song’s thrilling conclusion.

You can witness the rebirth of the Finnish children of the black moon, appreciate their music and get updates about their upcoming projects and concerts at their Facebook page, and you can also put your metal hands on Saatto at the Inverse Records webstore or at Record Shop X. Mustan Kuun Lapset have not arisen from the ashes in vain, they’re back from the netherworld with an invigorated passion for metal to deliver their diehard fans more of their high-end music and to show the new generation how good Scandinavian Metal should always be done, and by supporting them you’ll not only help to keep that metallic fire burning, but also become part of their inspirational career.

Best moments of the album: Peikonmieli, Amor Vincit Omnia and Saatto.

Worst moments of the album: Cilice.

Released in 2017 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Ja Toinen Yötä Rakastaa 2:06
2. Peikonmieli 5:19
3. Kuolemanvirta 5:47
4. Amor Vincit Omnia 4:59
5. Cilice 5:12
6. Sudenilma 5:17
7. Valkoinen Satama – Haaksi 5:29
8. Valkoinen Satama – Tyven 5:08
9. Saatto 8:45

Band members
Pete Lehtinen – vocals, guitar, synths
Heikki Piipari – guitar
Ville Pelkonen – bass
Mikko Hautala – drums

Album Review – Misteyes / Creeping Time (2016)

Which side will you chose in the never-ending battle between Light and Dark Metal brought forth by this distinct symphonic band from Italy?

Rating4

creeping-time-front-cover-artwork“Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.” – Heraclitus

The never-ending battle between good and evil, day and night, light and dark, heaven and hell, life and death or whatever other philosophical depiction you want to give to the two opposite worlds that guide our thoughts and actions has just been transformed into high-end music by Italian Symphonic Death/Gothic Metal act Misteyes in Creeping Time, the debut full-length album by a band that definitely knows how to put together the best elements from Light and Dark Metal, enhancing their contrast and, consequently, their impact on the listener.

Misteyes started back in 2012 in the city of Turin, Italy as a five-piece group, playing what could be considered Melodic Death/Black Metal before changing their music direction in 2014 to what exists today, including the addition of a female vocalist and a keyboardist to the band. The next couple of years were very fruitful for Misteyes, who not only started working on Creeping Time, but also shared the stage with renowned names in the Gothic scene such as Cadaveria, Opera IX, Lunarsea and Elegy Of Madness. The band’s approach and musicality can already be sensed through the obscure artwork by Italian artist Alessandro Alimonti (Overload Design Studio), but it’s when the music starts that you’ll find yourself in the middle of the fight between light and dark, getting completely mesmerized by the music that flows through your ears.

The melancholic intro The Last Knell, which begins with the sound of a baby crying, grows in intensity until the title-track Creeping Time arises from the depths of hell in a feast of Symphonic Black and Gothic Metal. Denise “Ainwen” Manzi is the beauty on vocals while Edoardo “Irmin” Iacono provides his beastly growls, perfectly depicting what the band wants to say with the “Light and Dark Metal” concept, with keyboardist Gabriele “Hyde” Gilodi being the one responsible for giving the song its operatic vibe. Then it’s time for some heavier riffs by Daniele “Insanus” Poveromo and Riccardo “Decadence” Tremaioni in the dense Brains in a Vat, an amazing composition filled with passion, hate and agony featuring the creepy spoken words by guest musician Mattia Casabona (Aspasia), sounding like a hybrid of the music by the early days of Cradle of Filth with Epica, resulting in a masterpiece of underground Symphonic Metal. Moreover, it’s interesting how Hyde maintains the mystery in Misteyes’ music through his keyboards no matter how fast and heavy the music is, which is the case in Inside the Golden Cage, where the vocals by Ainwen are once again heavily inspired by the diva Simone Simons whereas Irmin leans towards pure Black Metal, not to mention the thrilling beats by Federico “Krieger” Tremaioni.

Lady Loneliness, a beautiful atmospheric power ballad focused on the gentle voice of Ainwen with some pianos notes giving it an extra touch of delicacy, showcases a good story told through its lyrics (“If you are here, I cannot be overtaken by fear / Only this eternal silence is what can soothe my pain / In darkness I can find you, this time will be forever / Come! Come to me, my lady! Lady Loneliness!”); followed by The Prey, with the whole band getting back to a more brutish mode. Irmin effectively enhances the song’s aggressiveness due to his deranged harsh growls, with Insanus, Decadence and Hyde delivering sheer madness while bassist Andrea “Hephaestus” Gammeri brings forward his share of insanity through his low-tuned punches. Their operatic and dark vein becomes evident once again in Destroy Your Past, a song full of progressive passages thanks to the intricate lines delivered through guitars and bass and all tempo changes led by Krieger, as well as in the operatic metal hymn The Demon of Fear, where guest musician Roberto Pasolini (Embryo) complements the menacing keyboards by Hyde with his enraged growling. This excellent song, displaying a Symphonic Black Metal vibe with hints of Gothic Metal and Melodic Metal, is another good example of the fight between good and evil proposed by Misteyes, proving one more time how connected to the concept of opposition all songs are.

misteyes-2016Special guest Mattia Casabona is back in action, this time with clean vocals, in the two-part aria entitled “Awake the Beast”, starting with the operatic A Fragile Balance (Awake the Beast – Part 1), with its eerie piano intro and Ainwen providing her Tarja-inspired vocals. Almost “a capella”, it sounds like a horror flick soundtrack, leading to the furious and blackened Chaos (Awake the Beast – Part 2), a high-octane tune tailored for fans of obscure and harmonious music where Progressive and Symphonic Black Metal are flawlessly united. Krieger and Hyde are yet again the architects of the musicality, generating the perfect ambience for the sick riffs by both Insanus and Decadence to shine.

In the gripping Decapitated Rose, guest vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork) steals the spotlight by blasting his infuriated declamation of the song’s dark lyrics (“When life is withered …There is no water which can bring it back! / Ivy smothers your soul! Petals fall and you are alone! / All beauty is gone! Only the thorn is what remains! / In this garden of madness … Decapitated rose! Decapitated rose!”), with Hephaestus firing some thunderous bass lines that end up increasing the song’s creepiness while the keyboard sounds by Hyde will pierce your head and haunt your soul. And last but not least, the talented Nicole Ansperger (Eluveitie) and the awesome sound of her violin add the word “epic” to the powerful Winter’s Judgement, a Symphonic Gothic Metal feast that blends elements from the music by Dimmu Borgir, Nightwish, Epica, Moonspell and other prominent bands. In addition, the growls by Irmin get deeper than ever, guiding the listener into a journey through the realms of darkness and light until the song’s soulful ending.

In summary, it doesn’t matter which side you choose in the battle between Light and Dark Metal proposed by Misteyes, you’ll certainly win due to the sensational quality of their music. Thus, you can get in touch with these Italian metallers and get to know more about their music through Facebook, YouTube, ReverbNation and SoundCloud, and acquire your copy of Creeping Time at several different places such as their BandCamp page, the Maple Metal Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, on iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby.

Best moments of the album: Creeping Time, Brains in a Vat, The Prey and Decapitated Rose.

Worst moments of the album: Destroy Your Past.

Released in 2016 Maple Metal Records

Track listing
1. The Last Knell (Intro) 1:40
2. Creeping Time 6:29
3. Brains in a Vat 5:39
4. Inside the Golden Cage 5:24
5. Lady Loneliness 4:37
6. The Prey 7:03
7. Destroy Your Past 5:02
8. The Demon of Fear 6:55
9. A Fragile Balance (Awake the Beast – Part 1) 3:41
10. Chaos (Awake the Beast – Part 2) 5:26
11. Decapitated Rose 4:48
12. Winter’s Judgement 8:05

Band members
Edoardo “Irmin” Iacono – growl and scream vocals
Denise “Ainwen” Manzi – clean and operatic vocals
Daniele “Insanus” Poveromo – lead guitars
Riccardo “Decadence” Tremaioni – rhythm guitars
Gabriele “Hyde” Gilodi – piano, synth and orchestrations
Andrea “Hephaestus” Gammeri – bass and fretless bass
Federico “Krieger” Tremaioni – drums

Guest musicians
Björn “Speed” Strid – additional scream and clean vocals on “Decapitated Rose”
Nicole Ansperger – violin on “Winter’s Judgement”
Roberto Pasolini – additional growls and scream vocals on “The Demon of Fear”
Mattia Casabona – spoken words on “Brains in a Vat”, additional clean vocals on “A Fragile Balance (Awake the Beast – Part 1)”, and additional growls and scream vocals on “Chaos (Awake the Beast – Part 2)”