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

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

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Attention, metalheads!

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

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

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

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:

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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)”

Concert Review – Rotting Christ (L’Astral, Montreal, QC, 09/08/2016)

No Marduk? No problem at all, as Montreal still got an incredible night of extreme music spearheaded by the best Greek band of all time, the one and only Rotting Christ.

OPENING ACTS: Necronomicon and Carach Angren

marduk-tourFinally back from a lengthy trip to Montreal and Quebec City, it’s time to get the ball rolling again at The Headbanging Moose, and let’s begin with an outstanding night of Extreme Metal this Thursday in Montreal. First and foremost, in my opinion it was a huge lack of respect to all fans who had bought their tickets to see Marduk, Rotting Christ, Carach Angren and Necronomicon Thursday night at L’Astral in Montreal (by the way, what an amazing venue) to inform that Marduk had not received their Canadian working visas on time and, therefore, could not perform together with the other three bands of the night, only a couple of hours before the doors actually opened. I don’t believe the organizers were expecting the decision to not provide the visas to Marduk reversed the same day of the show, and I’m pretty sure most of you will agree with me it looks a lot more like an attempt to avoid a significant loss of money due to tickets being returned and refunded.

Anyway, Necronomicon, Carach Angren and Rotting Christ didn’t disappoint at all and put up a sensational show from start to finish, minimizing the pain we all had to endure due to the absence of the main band of the night. The first band to hit the stage was Canadian Symphonic Black/Death Metal horde NECRONOMICON, who after over a month on the road were finally back to their hometown to once again spread darkness over their beloved city at a packed L’Astral. Promoting their latest (and kick-ass) album Advent of The Human God, the band led by the talented (and also really cool guy) Rob “The Witch” Tremblay played a well-balanced mix of old songs with new demolishing tunes such as I (Bringer of Light) and Crown of Thorns, letting every single fan at the venue with a darkened heart and a huge smile on their faces. After their performance, Rob stayed at the band’s merch booth taking pictures with fans and selling high-quality T-shirts (really good stuff for only $25 each) and CD’s, which by the way are being re-printed already due to the high demand by fans worldwide. It’s so good to see bands like Necronomicon succeeding like that in an era where very few people buy physical music, and even better to see that when they play live they can transfer all the obscurity and potency of their music to the stage.

Band members
Rob “The Witch” Tremblay – vocals, guitar
Mars – bass
Rick – drums

img_1735After a short break, it was time for Dutch Horror Metal act CARACH ANGREN to haunt L’Astral with their theatrical and blackened performance. In case you know nothing about this excellent band from the city of Limburg, in the Netherlands, I highly recommend you go after their material because it’s not only very professional, but also unique and exciting. Furthermore, things get even better live, as all band members make sure they offer their fans a true depiction of their diabolical music. While Namtar kept smashing his drums and Ardek built a Mercyful Fate-inspired atmosphere through his keyboard notes, it were frontman Seregor and guest guitarist Jack Owen (let me say the presence of the famous ex-Cannibal Corpse guitarist was a huge and awesome surprise for me) who stole the show with their precise performances. I believe everyone at the venue loved the concert by Carach Angren, with songs such as When Crows Tick on Windows and Killed and Served by the Devil proving once again the fusion of theatre and extreme music, like what Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir do, always has a very positive impact on any live audience. There was even a wall of death close to the end of their show, which always translates into greatness for fans of demolishing music like myself.

Band members
Seregor – vocals
Ardek – keyboards, orchestrations
Namtar – drums 

Guest musician
Jack Owen – guitars 

ROTTING CHRIST

img_1744As aforementioned, we did not get Marduk, but who said the night wasn’t superb even with that unforeseen letdown? Well, that was only possible thanks to the flawless performance by Greek Black/Dark Metal titans ROTTING CHRIST, a concert that I personally recommend to anyone who loves violence and groove blended with history in heavy music. Call it tribal, ritualistic or warlike music, what Mr. Sakis Tolis and his army delivered to the fans in Montreal was beyond magnificent, with Sakis inciting every metalhed at the venue to “fight” in the circle pit. It was a neck-breaking, mind-blowing metal extravaganza that only a distinguished band like Rotting Christ is capable of delivering, leaving every single person in the crowd absolutely thrilled during their entire show.

I simply loved their precise mix of old classics, like the infernal The Sign of Evil Existence and Non Serviam, more contemporary tunes like the bestial 666, and brand new songs from the excellent Rituals, such as the hypnotizing chant Ze Nigmar, the delivish and rhythmic Apage Satana and my favorite song of the new album, the aggressive and energetic Elthe Kyrie (even with the stunning female vocals by Danai Katsameni not being live for obvious reasons). Nobody seemed to care about the fact that very few parts of the songs were sung in English, with most of their setlist being sung in Greek and other languages. The ritualistic and demonic aura of each song, played to perfection by all band members (in special by guitarist George Emmanuel, who was on fire during the whole concert as if he was possessed by an evil entity), was all that Rotting Christ needed to dominate the hearts, minds and souls of every fan at L’Astral.

img_1749I already nurture a lot of respect for Rotting Christ, but after what I saw in Montreal that respect grew even bigger than before. When you see a gorgeous girl that unfortunately has to be on a wheelchair (probably for the rest of her life) due to reasons beyond our control having an absolute blast the entire concert, getting totally mesmerized by the band’s powerful and primeval music, you know the band has something special in them. There are things only heavy music is capable of doing, especially bringing together all types of people it doesn’t matter how the person looks, the gender, religion, race or anything else. Unfortunately as I was still in Montreal until yesterday I couldn’t see them in Toronto Friday night, but I’m sure their Torontonians fans got exactly what they paid for: a stupendous concert of extreme music, perfectly fired by the most important and influential Greek band of all times. Put differently, next time Rotting Christ visit your city, don’t even think about missing the chance of seeing them live. Period.

Setlist
Ze Nigmar
Kata ton Demona Eautou
Athanati Este
Elthe Kyrie
Apage Satana
Grandis Spiritus Diavolos
Konx om Pax
666
The Sign of Evil Existence
Noctis Era

Encore:
Non Serviam

Band members
Sakis Tolis – vocals, guitars
George Emmanuel – guitars
Van Ace – bass
Themis Tolis – drums

Album Review – Ulcer / Heading Below (2016)

Trenchant riffs, bestial vocals and wicked beats overflowing from the third full-length installment by a band from Poland that has always been loyal to the foundations of Death Metal.

Rating5

ulcer-heading-below-frontThree years after the release of Grant Us Death, the implacable Polish Death Metal squad Ulcer strikes again with their third full-length album, entitled Heading Below, which will certainly drag you down to the underworld with its 50 minutes of devastating old school Death Metal in the vein of Swedish classics. Bursting with trenchant riffs, bestial vocals and wicked beats while dealing with topics like hate, anti-religion and death, this is a highly recommended albums for fans of the genre, and also an album that effectively solidifies Ulcer’s career not only in Poland, but anywhere in the world where Death Metal is respected and admired.

Formed in 2006 in the city of Lublin (around 200km southeast of the capital Warsaw) and featuring members from established bands such as Blaze of Perdition, Abusiveness, Deivos and Dira Mortis, Ulcer can be considered one of the (relatively) new European bands with the strongest loyalty to the roots of Death Metal, keeping their sounding as raw and aggressive as possible, but with the addition of distinct elements from other subgenres of Extreme Metal to keep the music always fresh and exciting. If the name of the band is not enough to prove you how vile and gruesome the music in Heading Below is before you hit play, take a good look at the austere cover art by Polish artist Piotr Kurek of Mentalporn (who was responsible for the artwork for another Polish Death Metal band  recently reviewed by The Headbanging Moose, the also excellent Embrional) and you’ll then realize it’s brutal Death Metal we’re talking about, and nothing else.

How else could a good Death Metal album start than with some eerie noises suddenly exploding into sheer inhumanity? That’s the opening track, named Down Below, a sonic thunder that will crush you mercilessly led by the demolishing riffs by guitarist Lucass and Mścisław, with hints of Black Metal inserted into the musicality to darken the final result even more. In Fiends Forever, melodious but fierce guitar lines open the gates for the bestial vociferations by frontmen D. and Angelfuck and the heavy beats by drummer Vizun, until the song’s Cannibal Corpse-inspired ending; whereas Sights To See presents ruthless Death Metal with hints of Hardcore and Black Metal, which obviously enhances the song’s savageness. D. and Angelfuck are once again a dynamic duo of destruction, spearheading one of the best and most devastating moments of the album for sure.

All In Vain is one of those songs where an epic intro morphs into blasting metal with huge doses of anger, with Vizun being the band’s unstoppable stonecrusher while bassist Szwed provides the low-tuned creepy lines we love in extreme music, all embraced by a somber atmosphere. As aforementioned, Ulcer definitely know how to grab the best elements from other subgenres of heavy music, as for example the Doom Metal-ish vibe that complements the ferocity of their Death Metal in the elegantly fast and furious The Phantom Heart, another brutish hymn perfect for some sick mosh pits. You Called, We Came is a direct Death Metal composition tailored for diehard fans of boisterous extreme music, with absolutely no magic ingredients added to its formula but old school destruction. Moreover, Lucass and Mścisław fire exactly what the music demands through their devilish guitars. On the other hand, despite presenting some good moments (like the guitar solo halfway through it), Miscarriage’s Lullaby is way below the quality found in the rest of the album.

UlcerphotoThe mid tempo Death Metal chant Howl Of The Jackal sounds very old school, obscure and hellish, with both vocalists offering precise guttural howls and harsh screams while the rest of the band smashes their instruments manically. Yet again, an ominous aura boosts the song’s vileness and, consequently, it’s overall quality, elevating it to the status of one of the best composition in Heading Below. Lastly, the bold and demonic 9-minute aria Enshrouded In Nothingness begins by displaying the darkest form of Blackened Doom you can think of, with its disturbing sonority being fairly different from the rest of the album. In addition, the second part of the song becomes a blend of Death and Symphonic Black Metal, always getting back to its original sluggish rhythm until its desolating conclusion, showing how versatile the band can be without affecting their Death Metal core.

Heading Below can be purchased at the Arachnophobia Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, and more details about the reverberating Death Metal by Ulcer can be found at their Facebook page and SoundCloud. As I said in the beginning of this review, Heading Below will help Ulcer cement their path to success without a shadow of a doubt due to its high level of energy, violence and devastation, keeping the demonic fires of Death Metal alive for the total delight of lovers of a type of heavy music that always takes the word “heavy” to a new limit.

Best moments of the album: Sights To See, The Phantom Heart and Howl Of The Jackal.

Worst moments of the album: Miscarriage’s Lullaby.

Released in 2016 Arachnophobia Records

Track listing
1. Down Below 6:04
2. Fiends Forever 5:46
3. Sights To See 4:29
4. All In Vain 6:09
5. The Phantom Heart 6:16
6. You Called, We Came 4:14
7. Miscarriage’s Lullaby 4:47
8. Howl Of The Jackal 5:12
9. Enshrouded In Nothingness 9:06

Band members
D. – vocals
Angelfuck – vocals
Lucass – guitars
Mścisław – guitars
Szwed – bass
Vizun – drums

Album Review – Necronomicon / Advent of The Human God (2016)

Behold the descent of the human god upon humanity to the symphonic and scorching Black Metal delivered by the most prominent Canadian horde of all time.

Rating4

Necronomicon_AHG_2000x2000_Rev_02If the original meaning of “Necronomicon” is a fictional grimoire (or textbook of magic), appearing in the stories by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, I believe we should refer to what Canadian Symphonic Black/Death Metal veterans Necronomicon offer us in their brand new opus entitled Advent of The Human God as a sonic compilation of evil spells. Discharging a lethal dose of symphonic and scorching Blackened Death Metal through their music, this power trio from the city of Montreal, Quebec takes no prisoners in their battle against religion, and nothing better than their artistic view of the descent of a human god upon humanity to showcase the always negative outcomes caused by our blind faith.

Fans of controversial bands like Behemoth, Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir will connect instantly with the lyrics and themes explored by Necronomicon in their new album, which are in line with what was presented in their previous releases such as Rise of The Elder Ones (2013), Return of The Witch (2010) and Pharaoh of Gods (1999). Featuring a beautiful and ungodly artwork by Canadian artist and musician Filip Ivanović and having bassist Mars debuting on the low-keys, Advent of The Human God is another step further in the solid career of this precious gem made in Canada, which obviously translates into pure awesomeness for fans of extreme music.

The symphonic and epic intro The Descent grows until the tile-track Advent of The Human God comes smashing us all with its blasting beats and dark melody, with the iconic lead singer and guitarist Rob “The Witch” Tremblay firing his deep vociferations in this work-of-art the likes of Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth. And this is just the beginning, because The Golden Gods starts right where the previous track ended, with drummer Rick blasting his heavy artillery of darkness until all instruments join him and all hell breaks loose. In addition to that, Rob provides some wicked solos that only enhance the song’s quality, making the overall result very progressive and obviously thrilling.

Necronomicon - photo - Credit - Myriam Francoeur 6Sounding like if it was extracted from a futuristic horror movie, the symphonic instrumental tune Okkultis Trinity will captivate you and drag you to the underworld, where the ferocious Unification of The Four Pillars will crush your spine and distort your mind, showcasing yet another flawless performance by Rick on drums while Rob leads the musicality with his solid riffs and growls, all nicely complemented by the symphonic elements and choir in the background. And in Crown of Thorns, its “opening of an evil ceremony” morphs into brutal and merciless Black Metal (with huge doses of harmony to give more balance to it), and this sonic earthquake keeps kicking ass throughout the entire song for our absolute delectation.

Leaning towards the musicality by Behemoth, The Fjord is slightly slower but as demonic and aggressive as usual, displaying a great synchronicity between Rob and Rick, which ends up creating an imposing atmosphere perfect for nonstop circle pits and brutal headbanging; whereas the sinister and atmospheric Gaia, another movie-like instrumental bridge, slowly sets the stage for the puissant I (Bringer Of Light), which needs only two seconds to hit you like a lightning bolt. This precise fusion of Symphonic Black Metal and Blackened Death Metal presents a completely infuriated and possessed Rob, who helps increase the song’s effectiveness in special during its powerful chorus. Innocence And Wrath, a cover version for the intro from Celtic Frost’s 1985 cult album To Mega Therion, doesn’t do much for the album as it’s just a short instrumental track, and Alchemy Of The Avatar, a symphonic and melodic onslaught of Black Metal, concludes the album with Rick firing unstoppable beats and fills while Rob switches his voice to a more satanic level and back to his regular deep growls, with all these elements helping the music flow into a climatic ending.

In case you’re from another planet and haven’t heard anything about Necronomicon yet, I suggest you go check their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation profile, and in order to get your copy of Advent of The Human God you should visit their BandCamp page or Season of Mist’s official webstore. As aforementioned, the advent of a human god upon humanity couldn’t have a better soundtrack than the unique Blackened Death Metal by this skillful Canadian horde.

Best moments of the album: Advent of The Human God, Unification of The Four Pillars and I (Bringer Of Light).

Worst moments of the album: Innocence And Wrath.

Released in 2016 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. The Descent 1:18
2. Advent of The Human God 5:27
3. The Golden Gods 4:13
4. Okkultis Trinity 2:27
5. Unification of The Four Pillars 3:27
6. Crown of Thorns 4:30
7. The Fjord 4:39
8. Gaia 2:43
9. I (Bringer Of Light) 4:04
10. Innocence And Wrath (Celtic Frost Cover) 1:08
11. Alchemy Of The Avatar 5:14

Band members
Rob “The Witch” Tremblay – vocals, guitar
Mars – bass
Rick – drums