Album Review – Vampiric / Supernatural Tales (2020)

Phoenix, Arizona’s own lone wolf returns with more of his blood-soaked Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal in a tribute to darkness and the supernatural.

Arising from the depths of his lair less than one year after the release of his debut full-length album The Magic of the Night, the Phoenix, Arizona-based one-man army Nik Williams, the mastermind behind Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal entity Vampiric, is back with more of his blood-soaked, dark and captivating music in his brand new opus entitled Supernatural Tales, bringing to our ears more of his fusion of extreme and symphonic sounds while singing about vampires, wolves and other creatures of the night. Not only that, Nik once again did everything by himself, including all music, lyrics, artwork and so on, proving how passionate he is about heavy music and vampirism, and how his undeniable talent allows him to unite those two distinct topics into a collection of dynamic and obscure compositions.

Phantasmagorical synths and a stench of blood permeate the air in the opening track Endless Night, where Nik generates a bold atmosphere with all instruments, also firing both harsh growls and cryptic clean vocals and uniting Black and Thrash Metal in the name of darkness. In Bloodthirst we’re treated to sheer brutality, with Nik barking the song’s vampiric lyrics manically (“Do you hear it? / Does it not sound like the shadows calling your name? / At midnight’s strike, piercing the dark / Calling to you as if in dream / His presence made known / His shadow crawls across the wall”) while the music brings a fusion of Second-Wave Black Metal with classic Bay Area Thrash, all spiced up by its background keys; and blasting a more straightforward and rockin’ sonority, Nik offers us all the dark and dancing tune The Wolves Of Winter, showcasing slashing riffs and massive beats and bass punches, being tailored for admirers of Gothic Rock and Metal from the 80’s and 90’s with a more venomous twist. Then Nik continues to blast his drums and extract sheer malignancy from his guitar, resulting in a hybrid of Blackened Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal entitled Heart Of Fire, where our lone wolf sings about how fear sometimes controls our lives (“Rise from the fire whose flames burn you not / Become the fire / It matters not the fear that lives inside of your heart / But how you go forth and face that fear / Times of turmoil beget times of peace”).

Melodic guitars ignite the also frantic and obscure The Embrace Of The Vampire, with Nik growling and gnarling while at the same time generating a truly wicked ambience with his Phantom of the Opera-inspired keys, also presenting some elements found in the music by the almighty Cradle Of Filth, whereas an exciting ride through the lands of Rock N’ Roll, Black Metal and symphonic music is condensed into the multi-layered The Darkness Reborn, where Nik does a superb job with all instruments, in special with his demonic riffage and vicious roars. A Descent Into Madness is a visceral, in-your-face Extreme Metal tune where the bass sounds are absolutely metallic and thunderous, making a solid paradox with all the ethereal keys in the background, while Fall From The Sky leans towards the rawer musicality from his 2019 album, also bringing forward a spot-on balance between aggressiveness and melody while the drums sound as Black Metal as they can be. It’s a bit lengthy, though, despite all of its breaks and variations, but nothing to worry about, before the cinematic outro The Dawn Is No More puts a melancholic and at the same time epic conclusion to this bloodthirsty album.

Not only Supernatural Tales represents a healthy and interesting step forward in the career of Nik Williams and his Vampiric, but it’s also a solid statement that Nik is an unstoppable force of the underground, always working on new material and always eager to release original music to fans of that more extreme side of metal, having released so far two excellent albums in less than one year, and I’m not even counting his debut EP Death Tore Through, also released in 2019. Hence, you can show your support to such up-and-coming, hardworking artist by following him on Facebook, by subscribing to his official YouTube channel, and obviously by purchasing Supernatural Tales sooner than you can expect from his own BandCamp page (where you can by the way take a listen at a couple of his new songs already, as well as his previous releases). In a nutshell, in praising darkness and the supernatural with his new album, Nik is also carving his name in the metal underworld, leaving us eager for more of his vampiric tales and extreme sounds until the end of days.

Best moments of the album: Bloodthirst, The Wolves Of Winter and The Darkness Reborn.

Worst moments of the album: Fall From The Sky.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Endless Night 5:28
2. Bloodthirst 2:50
3. The Wolves Of Winter 5:40
4. Heart Of Fire 4:51
5. The Embrace Of The Vampire 5:31
6. The Darkness Reborn 3:36
7. A Descent Into Madness 3:20
8. Fall From The Sky 6:22
9. The Dawn Is No More (Outro) 2:31

Band members
Nik Williams – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Mazikeen / The Solace of Death (2020)

A beastly album of Symphonic Death and Black Metal from Australia that proves death can be comforting when enfolded by first-class extreme music.

What started in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia as a solo project by guitarist Andrew Shiells with the help from Chris Meyer (from Australian Black Metal act Aberration Nexus), who recorded some drums and synths for the project’s first demo tracks, has evolved to a much bolder and multi-layered beast in recent years, blasting a crushing hybrid of Symphonic Death and Black Metal with other extreme styles such as Melodic Death Metal and old school Black Metal. I’m talking about Mazikeen (based on the Hebrew word “mazzikim”, meaning “harmful spirits”), an infernal horde comprised of the aforementioned Andrew Shiells and his henchmen James Edmeades (Claret Ash) on vocals, Kris Marchant on the guitars, Aretstikapha (Plasmodium, Klavierkrieger) on piano and synths, and Marco Pitrruzzella (Six Feet Under, Sleep Terror) on drums, who are unleashing upon us their first full-length opus titled The Solace of Death, featuring eight original songs and four insane cover tracks throughout impressive 67 minutes of music, all embraced by the stylish and sinister artwork by Australian artist Jamie Ludbrooke.

An eerie, phantasmagorical intro evolves into a feast of symphonic and dark sounds in the opening track The Solace Of Death, where Marco is absolutely infernal with his blast beats while James delivers his Dani Filth/Shagrath-inspired roars and gnarls, supported by the imposing synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha, whereas in Apostate it’s time for ten minutes of Symphonic Black Metal infused with Doom and Melodic Death Metal nuances where the guitars by Kris and Andrew sound sharp and very harmonious just the way we like it in extreme music. Brutal and enthralling form start to finish, this great composition lives up to the legacy of bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Carpathian Forest, which can also be said about Vexation Through The Golden Sun, even more obscure, violent and epic than its predecessors, spearheaded by the insane drums by Marco while his bandmates make sure every empty space in the air is filled with darkness and evil, resulting in a lecture in modern-day Symphonic Black Metal full of breaks and variations, Stygian passages and even some serene, acoustic moments for our total delight. And featuring guest vocals by Josh Young (Astral Winter, Atra Vetosus), Mazikeen go full Scandinavian Black Metal in Fractricide, inspired by the trailblazers of the genre such as Mayhem and Emperor, blasting a demolishing sonority that will make your head tremble nonstop.

Josh returns with his wicked gnarls in the melancholic and somber Psychotic Reign, starting in a Gothic Metal-ish vibe while also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal in its core essence. Moreover, I personally love the paradox created between Marco’s stone crushing beats and all background keys and symphonic elements, giving the whole song and extra touch of eccentricity, flowing into the cryptic and atmospheric instrumental bridge Harrowing Cessation, which also develops into a romantic instrumental ballad entitled MORS VINCIT OMNIA, or “death conquers all” from Latin, where the strength and depth of the piano notes take the lead and guide the music until its inevitable and grim ending. And in the last original song from the album, Cerulean Last Night, Mazikeen get back to a more ferocious and visceral mode, uniting the most piercing elements from old school Black Metal and contemporary Symphonic Black Metal spiced up by the visceral guest vocals by Ian McLean (The Maledict).

The last batch of songs in The Solace of Death is the band’s own tribute to their biggest idols and influences, starting with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, originally released in the 1994 cult album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (check the original version HERE), with Mazikeen’s version featuring the vicious vocals by guest Ashahalasin (Inhuman Remnants, Somnium Nox) infernally complemented by the pulverizing drums by Marco, followed by Disection’s Night’s Blood, from the 1995 album Storm of the Light’s Bane, as bestial as the original song with Kris and Andrew delivering sheer electricity and rage through their scorching riffs. Then we have a cover for Dimmu Borgir’s Mourning Palace, from the 1997 album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (you can listen to the original one HERE), where James does a fantastic job on vocals accompanied by the whimsical keys and synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha. And finally, Ashahalasin returns for their cover song for Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger, from the 1994 album Transilvanian Hunger, as raw and malevolent as the original tune, with Marco once again taking the lead firing endless dementia and wrath from his blast beats.

You can enjoy this precious gem of Australian Black Metal in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and also grab your copy of the album from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from the Iron, Blood & Death Corporation’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music, or click HERE for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mazikeen can also be found on Facebook, where you can know more about the band, their tour dates, their music and plans for the future, proudly carrying the flag of Black Metal wherever they go. In a nutshell, Andrew and his horde from Mazikeen nailed it in The Solace of Death, showing us all that death can be indeed comforting, especially if enfolded by a good amount of first-class Black Metal like the sonic devastation blasted by such distinct band hailing from the always inspiring Australia.

Best moments of the album: Vexation Through The Golden Sun, Fractricide and Night’s Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Harrowing Cessation.

Released in 2020 Satanath Records/Iron, Blood & Death Corporation

Track listing
1. The Solace Of Death 6:57
2. Apostate 10:05
3. Vexation Through The Golden Sun 10:46
4. Fractricide 4:54
5. Psychotic Reign 7:00
6. Harrowing Cessation 2:30
7. MORS VINCIT OMNIA 2:59
8. Cerulean Last Night 7:34
9. Freezing Moon (Mayhem cover) 6:36
10. Night’s Blood (Dissection cover) 7:10
11. Mourning Palace (Dimmu Borgir cover) 5:36
12. Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone cover) 5:36

Band members
James Edmeades – vocals
Kris Marchant – guitars
Andrew Shiells – guitars, synths
Aretstikapha – piano, synths
Marco Pitrruzzella – drums

Guest musicians
Josh Young – vocals on “Fractricide” and “Psychotic Reign”
Ian McLean – vocals on “Cerulean Last Night”
Ashahalasin – vocals on “Freezing Moon” and “Transilvanian Hunger”

Album Review – Nuclear Winter / Stormscapes EP (2020)

Taking on a new twist of an already unique blend of Melodic and Industrial Death Metal, a one-man outfit from Zimbabwe descends upon us all again with an exciting new EP.

After only a few short months, Zimbabwean Melodic/Industrial Death Metal one-man outfit Nuclear Winter descends upon us all again ready to blast the world with his fourth release, a relatively short but very enjoyable four-track EP entitled Stormscapes. After the collaboration on his 2019 album Night Shift, Nuclear Winter’s mastermind Gary Stautmeister decided to strike out on his own and mold the four tracks in Stormsacapes alone, taking on a new twist of an already unique blend of Melodic and Industrial Death Metal with Alternative Rock, proving with his new opus that not only can this Harare, Zimbabwe-based multi-instrumentalist create a rare twist on the tried-and-true Melodic Death Metal formula, but he can push his own envelope in new directions and make excellent new material in the process, undoubtedly making Zimbabwe’s metal scene (and Melodeath in general) truly proud of Gary’s project.

After hitting play you’ll be treated to an imposing and industrialized sonority permeating the air in the opening track Hearts of Stone, with Gary crushing his drums and firing incendiary riffs nonstop, therefore living up to the legacy of Industrial Death Metal and also bringing tons of epicness and obscurity to our avid ears. Then shredding his guitar strings in great fashion Gary delivers the even more atmospheric and dense The Wide Water, leaning towards the Symphonic Black Metal played by Dimmu Borgir at times mainly due to all the song’s phantasmagorical background elements, not to mention how devilish and grim his gnarls are. And Gary somehow managed to get even darker and heavier in The Northern Winds, getting closer and closer to traditional Black Metal infused with symphonic and industrial nuances, barking rabidly while at the same time mercilessly smashing his drums and bass, followed by his personal rendition of Frank Sinatra’s biggest hit of all time New York, New York (check the original version HERE). I must admit Nuclear Winter’s version is not only heavy-as-hell, but it also maintains the energy and thrill of the original version, showcasing Gary’s undisputed talent, his passion for the music he plays, and his utmost respect for the classics.

In a nutshell, it’s truly impressive how Gary is capable of generating such bold sound all by himself, and in order to show your support to what’s most probably the most interesting metal project coming from Zimbabwe you should definitely go check what he’s up to on Facebook, on Twitter and on YouTube, and visit his official BandCamp page to listen to and purchase Stormscapes soon, as well as his 2019 effort Night Shift. The only “problem” is that you’ll have to wait until the end of May to listen to the new creations by Gary and his Nuclear Winter, unless of course he releases one of the songs as a single in the coming weeks to give you a better taste of what to expect from Stormscapes, but believe me when I say you’ll instantly get addicted to his music after listening to his upcoming EP, no doubt about that, opening your eyes (and ears) to the rich but yet unexplored Zimbabwean metal scene.

Best moments of the album: The Wide Water and New York, New York.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Hearts of Stone 3:51
2. The Wide Water 3:33
3. The Northern Winds 4:00
4. New York, New York (Frank Sinatra cover) 3:20

Band members
Gary Stautmeister – vocals, all instruments

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The year of 2019 might be reaching its inevitable end in the blink of an eye for most of us, but if there’s one thing we must admit is that it has been indeed a year of countless events, episodes and changes with a huge impact on how pretty much everything works in our Heavy Metal universe. For instance, 2019 was the year where we unfortunately witnessed the ultimate campaign by Thrash Metal titans Slayer, who at the same time left an undisputed and brilliant legacy to Heavy Metal and a giant hole in our hearts and in the global Thrash Metal scene. Do you think there’s any band that can fill that gap created by the end of Slayer? In my humble opinion, although I love bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, I doubt anyone can claim Slayer’s throne as the meanest, most demonic and most pulverizing band of all time, but that doesn’t mean Thrash Metal is dead and gone. Quite the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking, with many of the underground bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose contributing to keep the flame of such distinct subgenre of heavy music burning bright.

In addition, 2019 was also the year we lost many of our rock and metal icons, including André Matos (vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper), Larry Wallis (former guitarist of Motörhead), and Timi Hansen (former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond), as well as several talented musicians from non-metal styles like Marie Fredriksson (lead singer and keyboardist of Roxette), Keith Flint (frontman of The Prodigy), and the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Mr. Dick Dale. However, even with all those significant losses, we can say 2019 was a productive year for rock and metal music, with many iconic and underground bands delivering some fantastic albums for our total delectation, and that’s why here we are again with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, to prove once and for all that heavy music will never, ever die. Having said that, enjoy our list of top metal albums for this year that’s coming to an end, and keep raising your horns high together with us in 2020!

1. Rammstein – Rammstein (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.
Best song of the album: Deutschland

2. Necronomicon – UNUS (REVIEW)
Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their career.
Best song of the album: Infinituum Continuum

3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics (REVIEW)
It’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Fire God and Fear

4. Soilwork – Verkligheten (REVIEW)
Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters return in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.
Best song of the album: Stålfågel

5. The Agonist – Orphans (REVIEW)
Canadian juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.
Best song of the album: Blood as My Guide

6. Helevorn – Aamamata (REVIEW)
Embrace darkness and melancholy with the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the current Spanish scene.
Best song of the album: Aurora

7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (REVIEW)
The world’s most famous masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.
Best song of the album: Unsainted

8. Amon Amarth – Berserker (REVIEW)
Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with Amon Amarth.
Best song of the album: Shield Wall

9. Target – Deep Water Flames (REVIEW)
Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by this amazing band from Chile.
Best song of the album: Oceangrave

10. Singularity – Place of Chains (REVIEW)
The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Ritual of Regret

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Grand Magus – Wolf God (REVIEW)
12. Hiss From The Moat – The Harrier (REVIEW)
13. Lucifera – La Caceria De Brujas (REVIEW)
14. Alunah – Violet Hour (REVIEW)
15. Dö – Astral Death Cult (REVIEW)
16. Rifftera – Across the Acheron (REVIEW)
17. Rage Of Light – Imploder (REVIEW)
18. Rexoria – Ice Breaker (REVIEW)
19. HerezA – Death Metal Drunks (REVIEW)
20. Aephanemer – Prokopton (REVIEW)

Also, let’s not forget about some of the best albums which, although might be short in duration, they did bring to our ears an endless amount of heaviness, speed and harmony this year, accrediting them to be part of our Top 10 EP’s of 2019. As you can see, those EP’s were recorded by the most diverse types of bands and artists from all over the world, becoming some sort of “tasting sample” of what we can expect from those metallers in a not-so-distant future.

1. Eleine – All Shall Burn (REVIEW)
2. Quilombo – Itankale (REVIEW)
3. Master’s Call – Morbid Black Trinity (REVIEW)
4. Violent Life Violent Death – Sadness Rains (REVIEW)
5. Angra Demana – Triptych Of Decay (REVIEW)
6. Vorga – Radiant Gloom (REVIEW)
7. Shuulak – Citrinitas (REVIEW)
8. Moanaa – Torches (REVIEW)
9. Exuviated – Déliquescence (REVIEW)
10. Sophist – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2019? And, as usual, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2020!

And before The Headbanging Moose takes a well-deserved break to recover our energies and return in full force in 2020, how about we enjoy what’s probably one of the best and most detailed “Christmas” songs of all time, the fantastic Valhalleluja, recently released by Italian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Nanowar of Steel? This is the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas night with your loved ones, especially if you give someone anything from IKEA as a Christmas gift. Well, simply watch the official video below and follow the lyrics to understand what I’m talking about. Having said that, let’s all pray to Odin, drink beer and sing Valhalleluja together with Nanowar of Steel, my friends!

Metal Chick of the Month – Aura Dănciulescu

Let’s go fucking wild, Aura!

The year of 2019 might be coming to an end, but not before we fill the airwaves with the stunning vocals by Aura Dănciulescu, the winged frontwoman for Romanian Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal band Scarlet Aura and our awesome metal chick of the month of December. Born Aura Gabriela Danciulescu on October 28, 1985 in Fălticeni, a city in Suceava County, north-eastern Romania, situated in the historical region of Moldavia, Aura is a multi-talented singer, lyricist and songwriter, always passionate about music and writing. Of light brown hair (but currently dyed blonde) and brown eyes, Aura has all the attributes fans of heavy music look for in a vocalist, and I’m sure after reading a little about our gorgeous metalhead you’ll get addicted to her music and be quite impressed with her skills, transparency and deep love for our good old Heavy Metal.

Aura, who by the way has a famous sister, Mihaela Pohoaţă, a Romanian aerobic gymnast who won five world championships medals (three gold and two bronze) and three European championships gold medals during her career, started singing when she was just a little kid, and her initial performance was so bad her parents actually decided to put her in vocal lessons to improve her skills. By the way, her parents have always supported her decisions, letting her be free, believe in herself and have her own goals. She then naturally decided to become a singer after the vocal lessons when she was around 10 years old, developing her voice through the years until reaching the superb level she sings nowadays. Although she’s always been a rock and metal fan, it was when she met her now husband, Mihai Danciulescu, lead guitarist and backing vocalist for Scarlet Aura, that she really started to adore it, with Mihai explaining to her all the different styles of rock and metal music and introducing her to some of his biggest idols. Furthermore, before dedicating her life to music from the year of 2011 onward, Aura went to University of Bucharest and studied political science and law school, also holding a few extra courses on diplomacy and national defense and having worked for a few years at the Romanian Senate.

After numerous music projects and her first rock band Steelborn, having recorded with the band the EP’s Un Nou Inceput and Intr-Un Vis, both in 2010, and the full-length album Trup De Apa, in 2012, all in her mother tongue Romanian (and if you want to listen to Aura beautifully singing the band’s pleasant Rock N’ Roll you can check a couple of YouTube videos with the songs Orice Ar Fi & Suflet Furat live and Ratacire), it all eventually led to creation in 2014 of Scarlet Aura, the exotic rising metal star of the East that quickly got the attention of promoters and fans worldwide. By the way, if you would like to enjoy a very interesting “fusion” of Aura’s past and present, Scarlet Aura recorded in 2018 a heavier version of one of Steelborn’s oldest songs, Un Nou Inceput, the title-track to their 2010 debut EP. Having already toured with renowned acts like Tarja Turunen, Beast in Black and Soto, the band comprised of our unstoppable Aura on vocals, the aforementioned Mihai on the guitars and backing vocals, Rene Nistor on bass and backing vocals, and Doru Gheorghita on drums are on a roll since their inception, positioning them as one of the most promising names in the current European scene.

As a matter of fact, the name scarlet Aura was only adopted in 2015, with the band’s original name AURA being used only during their first year of existence, having released under their old name the album The Rock Chick. In addition, as you might have noticed, Aura and Mihai met in 2010 while playing with Steelborn, and after a few years they fell in love, got married and decided to pursue a career together as Scarlet Aura. Under their new and powerful name, Aura and the boys have already released the full-length albums Falling Sky in 2016, Memories in 2017, and Hot’n’Heavy in 2018, as well as the EP The Beast Within Me in 2017 and the CD/DVD box set Scarlet Aura in Concert (recorded live at Quantic Pub in Bucharest on April 27, 2017) in 2018. Moreover, Scarlet Aura are set to release in 2020 their fifth album, entitled Stormbreaker, and the second one in the trilogy The Book Of Scarlet, once again combining metal music with fantasy literature, and if you want to show your true support to Aura and the boys you can help them make the album come true by participating in their Indiegogo campaign. also, the band’s official YouTube channel is and endless source of awesomeness, providing us metalheads several first-class videos for the best songs form all of their albums, such as Hail To You!, High in the Sky, Hate is Evanescent, Violence is Forever, My Own Nightmare, You’re Not Alone, Immortal In Your Eyes and Fallin’ to Pieces, not to mention other interesting videos from the band playing songs like In The Name Of My Pain at a Romanian TV show called  Antena 1, and their full performance at Transalpina Rock Fest in 2018.

In addition to all of the band’s original material, I would also recommend you take a very good listen at their 2017 album Memories, which is pretty much a tribute to all of their idols and influences in music, mixing some of the biggest metal hits in history with non-metal cover songs as well. For instance, you can enjoy Aura giving her own feminine twist to all-time Heavy Metal and Hard Rock classics like Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law, Blind Guardian’s A Past and Future Secret, Europe’s The Final Countdown, Iron Maiden’s Wasting Love, Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It, Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford’s If I Close My Eyes Forever, and Dio’s Don’t Talk To Strangers, or maybe you fancy listening to her personal interpretation of hits by female-fronted bands from the most diverse styles like Skunk Anansie’s My Ugly Boy, Doro’s All We Are, and The Cranberries’ Zombie. You can obviously find these and all of their own original songs by directly visiting their Spotify profile, bringing to your metallic ears hours of first-class metal music made in Romania.

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Apart from her life with Scarlet Aura, was also a guest vocalist in a song called Plecăciune Zăului, from the album Zăul Moș, released in 2017 by Romanian Symphonic Black Metal band Syn Ze Șase Tri (with the name of the band translating as “I Am With Triple Six”, just to give you an idea of how dark their music is). Not only that, Aura has also been working as a moderator at Wacken Radio since April this year, spearheading the first ever English show of the radio called Go Wild. “I was invited to give an interview on Scarlet Aura in the S.T.U.N.T.S. metal show, for Wacken Radio, held by TinU and SlayerOfMadness. We connected immediately and the invitation to join them as host came naturally and I couldn’t be more honored and happy to say Yes! And soon I discovered that Wacken Radio supports radio hosts applicants that can join the family by applying and going through some tests and if they pass, they can be also part of Wacken Radio! I passed the tests too so here I am!”, said Aura about her new experience as a show host. Furthermore, this is not the first connection with Wacken organization for Scarlet Aura, as the band was supported by Wacken Foundation in 2018.

Aura doesn’t use only her voice as her instrument of work, as her brain also seems to be a nonstop source of great ideas and projects. For example, Aura is the managing director for a Tallinn, Estonia-based record label named Silver City Records, founded by Aura herself together with her husband and bandmate Mihai and Tatyana Shubina (from Outlanders Productions), exclusively for rock and metal bands, and if you have a band looking for an up-and-coming label you can contact them directly via Facebook or by e-mail at contact@silvercityrecords.com. She was also a guest speaker at an event held by Mastering the Music Business, the leading Romanian music conference and showcase event, where she talked about her music, her business and her vision as a a successful performing artist, manager and record label CEO that she is, and you can also hire Aura for marketing and advertising purposes as a voice actor through a website called Voices.com, where you can see our multi-talented diva has already worked for Vodafone România, real estate companies and other local advertising companies, being able not only to sing classical, rock and metal music, but also to impersonate voices from all ages in English, Romanian, French and Italian for an array of projects like animations, documentaries, movie trailers and video-games, among others. Well, in the end I think the question should be “is there something she CAN’T do?”

A lover of the simple things that make our lives more fun such as pizza, red wine, yoga, cats, writing, reading, carpentry and painting, with her favorite movie of all time being the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind and her favorite books being from English author Terry Pratchett, Aura has among her biggest idols some of the most iconic names in the history of Heavy Metal, including the one and only Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.), the unstoppable Mr. Bruce Dickinson, and Slayer’s own roaring engine Tom Araya, as well as bands like German institution Helloween, and on a more feminine side she always mentions names like the unparalled Tarja Turunen and Doro. However, Aura mentioned in one of her interviews that she always searches inside herself for the power she needs to print her own convictions, her own beliefs and of course her own voice, also mentioning her own mother as her biggest idol of all, which is just fantastic, don’t you agree? She also considers scarlet as her favorite color (which makes total sense to me),  My Own Nightmare as her favorite Scarlet Aura song, and the day she married Mihai, on September 22, 2012, as the best day of her life.

Just like any other true metalhead, our Romanian bombshell simply loves touring and performing live, always eager to promote her music to the four corners of the earth and to inspire all girls out there to join her in her female-fronted metal movement. When asked about her experience sharing the stage with her idol Tarja Turunen in 2016, considered by many as the most influential woman in modern-day metal music, she said that meeting her was really overwhelming at first, and that she was able to learn a lot from her during that tour. One funny (and somewhat stressful) episode during the tour with Tarja happened when Scarlet Aura’s crew crew lost their stage clothing luggage, forcing the band to improvise by borrowing belts, T-Shirts and make up. Moreover, Aura also has very good memories of other conerts with renowned acts of the metal scene like Accept, Doro, Nazareth, Gotthard, Helloween and Europe, showing how much all members of Scarlet Aura are connected to metal and how much they admire and are influenced by their music idols. And last but not least, when Aura was asked about the current metal scene in her birthplace Romania, she said that it has been continuously growing, getting bigger and shinier as the years go by, and that she expects it keeps getting more and more important to the world of heavy music. She complemented by saying that growth, especially her own band’s rise to stardom, wouldn’t be possible without the support of metalheads in Romania and worldwide, always praising fans like us for all support and passion we have for our good old Heavy Metal.

Aura Dănciulescu’s Official Facebook page
Aura Dănciulescu’s Official VKontakte
Aura Dănciulescu’s Official Instagram
Aura Dănciulescu’s Official Twitter
Scarlet Aura’s Official Facebook page
Scarlet Aura’s Official VKontakte
Scarlet Aura’s Official Instagram
Scarlet Aura’s Official Twitter
Scarlet Aura’s Official YouTube channel

“As an artist I’m not afraid to dig into the unknown by approaching sensible subjects in our songs, subjects like the difficulty of being honest with others but also with yourself regarding your own feelings, the need of overcoming a huge sufferance that troubles you, the lack of courage when it’s about doing the right thing, the lack of love or the crying for it… subjects that make ourselves human, subjects that are in each one of us and that makes us who we are and maybe throughout our music, we get recovered, healed or better, we discover ourselves for who we really are because with any doubt music heals the spirit, metal heals the heart.” – Aura Dănciulescu

Album Review – Singularity / Place of Chains (2019)

The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal by a sensational metal unity from Arizona.

Tempe, Arizona-based Technical Death Metal/Symphonic Black Metal hybrid act Singularity is back from outer space to pulverize our senses once again with the release of Places of Chains, the follow-up to their highly acclaimed 2014 self-titled debut album and their 2016 EP Void Walker. Since their formation in 2010, the band now comprised of Jack Fliegler (ToxicxEternity, Hemoptysis) on vocals and guitar, Adam King (Depraved Heretic, Arkaik) on bass and vocals, and Nathan Bigelow (Arkaik, Alterbeast, Solar Impulse) on drums, not to mention keyboardist Nick Pompliano (R.I.P), who sadly passed away during the creation process of the album in 2018, has continually shown themselves to be a forward-thinking act, one with a bold vision built on fusing Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal together in a myriad of ways. In other words, let’s say this talented American entity was capable of uniting the best of both worlds in Place of Chains, bringing forth music that has at the same time the intricacy and aggressiveness of Death Metal with the beauty and mystery of Black Metal, and the final result is absolutely stunning to say the least.

Mixed by Mike Low (Inferi, Oubliette), mastered by Zak Denham (Anagnorisis), and featuring additional orchestrations on every track by Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem) and a futuristic and apocalyptic artwork by Justin Abraham, who has already worked with several excellent bands like Equipoise, Inanimate Existence, Lecherous Nocturne, A Loathing Requiem, Virulent Depravity and Æpoch, among several others, Place of Chains will undoubtedly and strongly appeal to all fans of bands like  Fleshgod Apocalypse, Old Man’s Child, Dimmu Borgir and the first album from Irreversible Mechanism. “Place of Chains is the translation to the song title ‘Desmoterion’ which lyrically illustrates the emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned. Considering that many of the songs on this record lyrically are about enslavement, we felt it was a good over-arching title for the record. We strongly believe that this is the best Singularity record so far. Singularity would also like to thank our guest artists that we had the privilege of having on this record. With every record, we try to further hone in on what the core of Singularity’s sound is and what we want to bring to the world of metal,” commented the band on the release of their newborn spawn.

Bellum, a cinematic and incendiary intro led by the futuristic orchestrations by guest Malcolm Pugh, sets the stage for Singularity to smash us all in Victory or Death, featuring Jared Christianson (Arkaik) as a guest vocalist.  Showcasing lyrics that invite us all to war (“Let the games begin / Your legions are chosen for a tournament / Worthy of the ages / The astral arena beckons your names”), this is a first-class Technical Death Metal tune where Jack is astounding with his riffs and solos while Nathan sounds like a stone crusher on drums, not to mention the intricacy and groove flowing from Adam’s bass. And in Sisyphean Cycle an ominous intro evolves into a doom-ish feast of Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir infused with Death Metal nuances, where Adam continues to impress with his thunderous bass jabs while the keys by Nick bring an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result.

Guest vocalist Jeremy Davis (Animus Complex) brings his own dosage of lunacy to Ritual of Regret (by the way, check the band’s amazing guitar playthrough for it HERE), a song that begins in full force spearheaded by Nathan and his insane beats while Jack and Nick have a healthy and thrilling “riffs-versus-keys duel”, leaning towards pure Symphonic Black Metal at times. Furthermore, all of their roars reach a true demonic level as the music progresses, also bringing to our ears sensational razor-edged guitar solos. Back to a more technical mode, Singularity offer us all Consume and Assume, a fast and intricate Death Metal chant perfect for slamming into the pit, all embraced by the whimsical keys by Nick and also featuring a guest guitar solo by Nick Padovani (Equipoise, Virulent Depravity), who co-composed the song with the band; whereas in Desmoterion you better get ready for over seven minutes of pulverizing Technical Death and Black Metal with all band members being in absolute and demonic sync, bringing forth an imposing and epic atmosphere for our total delight. The song’s vocals couldn’t sound more infernal and wicked than this, as well as its piercing guitar solos and all breaks and variations, resulting in a full-bodied aria by this talented metal unity.

In the berserk Serpentes, Eternal not a single space in the air is left empty, with the Stygian words vociferated by Jack and Adam (“Far below / Beneath black earth and snow and decay / Residing under ice and rot, they seek / Surface world never knows / Eyes like fire, these Serpentine / Hearts beat steady as the ancient ones”) shining amidst a feast of slashing riffs and solos, rumbling bass lines and unstoppable blast beats, followed by Dead Receptors, co-composed by Singularity and John Low (the band’s former drummer), which sounds like a hybrid between classic and a more technical version of Death Metal with a stylish twist, as if it was a dark and devilish “waltz” where the vocal lines alternate between obscure Black Metal moments and full Death Metal roars. And last but not least, As Dark as This Nefarious Night is another onrush of darkened and complex sounds by Singularity where Nathan once again delivers sheer violence on drums, while Jack and Adam make our heads tremble with their respective riffs and bass punches, ending in a visceral and epic manner.

You can enjoy this striking album of technical and symphonic extreme music in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to the guys from Singularity, and as a tribute to the deceased Nick Pompliano, you should definitely purchase your copy of the album from The Artisan Era Records’ webstore, from Singularity’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on their official Facebook page, as I’m sure the band would love to hear your thoughts on Place of Chains. Now it’s time for Singularity to give life to their creations on stage while promoting their new album (which means you should definitely keep an eye on their live tour announcements) before heading back to their spacecraft and begining the writing process of their new material, and I personally can’t wait to see what those skillful and hardworking guys from Arizona will provide us in their future releases.

Best moments of the album: Victory or Death, Ritual of Regret and Desmoterion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Bellum 2:44
2. Victory or Death 3:39
3. Sisyphean Cycle 6:26
4. Ritual of Regret 3:07
5. Consume and Assume 4:50
6. Desmoterion 7:07
7. Serpentes, Eternal 4:39
8. Dead Receptors 4:03
9. As Dark as This Nefarious Night 5:08

Band members
Jack Fliegler – vocals, guitar
Adam King – vocals, bass
Nick Pompliano (R.I.P) – keyboards
Nathan Bigelow – drums

Guest musicians
Malcolm Pugh – additional orchestrations
Jared Christianson – vocals on “Victory or Death”
Jeremy Davis – vocals on “Ritual of Regret”
Nick Padovani – guitar solo on “Consume and Assume”

Album Review – Necronomicon / UNUS (2019)

Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their undisputed 30-plus-year career.

The gates to the underworld are open once again for another onslaught of Canadian Blackened Death Metal, courtesy of the most demonic and ancient horde hailing from the city of Montreal, the one and only infernal beast Necronomicon, and you better get ready for the searing cacophony of blistering riffs, machine-like drums and a symphonic ambiance found in their brand new album, titled UNUS, the Latin word for “one”. And the band founded by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rob “The Witch” Tremblay back in the distant year of 1988 sounds better than ever in their newborn spawn, proving why Necronomicon have been on the road for such a long period of time and, more important than that, continuously producing high-quality metal that’s just as dark and brutal as it is elegant.

Recorded at Silver Wings Studio, mixed and mastered at Darth Mader Music, and featuring a grim cover art and layout by German artist Totleben (Metal Artworks), UNUS, the crushing and cinematic follow up to the band’s 2016 opus Advent of the Human God, flawlessly combines the most infuriated elements of Death Metal with the orchestral prowess of Black Metal, creating the perfect synthesis of both genres and being highly recommended for fans of the music by Dimmu Borgir, Septicflesh, Behemoth and Deicide. Accompanied by newcomer Divider on drums, Rob takes care of all vocal duties, guitars and bass on the album, which therefore creates a very powerful and honest connection between the band’s mastermind and the music found in his new album, also showcasing all his refined skills and passion for dark music.

And Rob begins his onrush of violence and darkness in From Ashes into Flesh, featuring cryptic, phantasmagorical piano notes by guest musician Geirlioz. From the very first second we can witness how sensational Divider is on drums, setting fire to the music with his hellish beats. Put differently, what a bestial display of Symphonic Black Metal to kick off the album, with that devilish aura going on in  Infinitum Continuum, where the slashing riffs by Rob dictate the rhythm while his vocals sound a lot more Death Metal than ever, bringing an extra dosage of rage to the music. Its flammable musicality is beyond perfect for slamming into the circle pit, not to mention Rob’s incendiary guitar solo, elevating the overall quality of the album to new heights. Then it’s time for Divider to crush our skulls with his rumbling drums in Paradise Lost, a lesson in Blackened Death Metal by Necronomicon, sounding as dense and obscure as it can be and with Rob growling and roaring like a true creature from the netherworld.

The cinematic instrumental bridge The Price of a Soul sets the stage for Rob and Divider to explode our senses in the fulminating Singularis Dominus, a grandiose display of Black and Death Metal showcasing nonstop blast beats, electrifying riffs and deep, harsh growls. Put differently, it can’t get any better than this, with all that devastation being embraced by an epic aura generated by the song’s  background keys and choir, flowing like an arrow on fire in pitch black darkness until its thunderous finale. And a mesmerizing intro evolves into an Arabian nightmare entitled The Thousand Masks, with its keys bringing an extra dosage of epicness to the overall musicality, while Rob is on fire with his demonic growls and Divider keeps smashing our skulls with his blast beats.

Arising from the underworld like a fiendish entity, Necronomicon blend the aggressiveness of their trademark Blackened Death Metal with the obscurity of Blackened Doom in Ascending The Throne of Baator, feeling utterly sluggish and disturbing from start to finish and with the strident sound of its guitars being perfect for haunting your damned soul during your sleepless nights. Fhtagn is another atmospheric instrumental piece emerging from the crypts of Hades, preparing the listener for the devastating anthem Cursed MMXIX, a thrash-death-black spawn that will rip your heart out and feed it to the demons, with Rob delivering sheer darkness through his Death and Black Metal riffs and monstrous guttural vocals, resulting in what’s by far one of the heaviest and most frantic of all songs of the album. And Vox Draconis, the last song in UNUS, is just as brutal and exhilarating than its predecessors, bringing forward insanely sharp and heavy guitar solos by Rob supported by Divider’s rhythmic and precise drumming. What an epic and thunderous ending fur such grandiose album of Extreme Metal, I might say, leaving us completely disoriented and eager for more of Necronomicon’s music in a not-so-distant future.

You can get a very good sense of how somber and powerful the music found in UNUS is by listening to the full album on YouTube or on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would definitely purchase one of the best underground albums of 2019 from Necronomicon’s own BandCamp page, from the Season of Mist webstore, from the Napalm Records webstore, or from several other locations such as the FYE webstore, Waterloo Records, Apple Music or Amazon. Rob and his horde really stepped up their game in their 2016 opus Advent of the Human God, sounding extremely focused and professional back then, but there’s something about UNUS, which is by the way the “666th” album in their career,  that makes it absolutely addictive and evil, just like the fictional grimoire from H. P. Lovecraft’s horror stories that gives the band its classy name. It might be its absurd level of darkness and rage, its frantic speed, its epicness or everything at once. What really matters is that Necronomicon kicks ass in UNUS, cementing their name as one of the powerhouses of Canadian extreme music and, therefore, positioning them as the true leaders of extreme music in Canada hands down.

Best moments of the album: Infinitum Continuum, Singularis Dominus, The Thousand Masks and Cursed MMXIX.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. From Ashes into Flesh 4:23
2. Infinitum Continuum 5:27
3. Paradise Lost 4:55
4. The Price of a Soul 1:56
5. Singularis Dominus 4:50
6. The Thousand Masks 3:20
7. Ascending The Throne of Baator 4:54
8. Fhtagn 1:59
9. Cursed MMXIX 4:13
10. Vox Draconis 4:13

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

Guest musician
Geirlioz – piano on “From Ashes into Flesh”

Metal Chick of the Month – Māra Lisenko

Label me insane… My madness is not my enemy!

Get ready to be absolutely stunned by the sick growling, screaming and roaring blasted by our metal lady of the month of September, a true metalhead who loves all types of extreme music from the bottom of her Latvian heart, with her music being highly recommended for diehard fans of renowned acts like Aborted, Cryptopsy, Cattle Decapitation, Decapitated, Bloodbath and Hideous Divinity, among several others, who are always in pursuit of new names in the scene and who also love a feminine touch amidst such level of devastation. Hailing from Riga, Latvia’s capital, set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava, but currently residing in the metal heaven known as the Federal Republic of Germany, here comes the ferocious she-wolf Māra Lisenko, the indomitable growler for some of the best bands of the past few years coming from the Baltics, those being Ocularis Infernum and MĀRA.

Having studied vocals at Vocaltech – Thames Valley University (currently known as University of West London) in 2007 in the UK, as well as with some of the most prestigious vocal coaches worldwide such as rock and metal vocal coach Melissa Cross, rockstar vocal coach Mark Baxter, and “Death Metal Phoniatrician” Dr. Enrico H Di Lorenzo (Hideous Divinity), Māra is an extremely versatile vocalist, being able to sing from the most brutal and gory growls to fragile, emotional clean vocals. In addition, although she started to sing in bands and tour around Europe in 2003, her singing career started way earlier than that, when she was still a three-year old girl, mainly because her own mother was a choir leader and inspired her to follow a similar path. A self-starter and an autodidact, our dauntless growler is also a vocal coach, having taught several aggressive as well as melodic vocal techniques and training since 2011, and also offering studio session work for bands who need professional sounding vocals for their recordings (and you can get more details about her services by clicking HERE or HERE). In one of her interviews, she said all the energy in her singing and screaming is driven by her real-life experiences and emotions, never about fictional topics, which in her opinion makes it a lot easier for her to transform those feelings into ass-kicking vocals.

During hear early years as a professional vocalist, she was part of two distinct Latvian bands named Defame (which I couldn’t find any information online) and Karmafree, with whom she won a couple of awards, those being Best Vocalist in a band contest named “Rīgas Dzintars” with Karmafree in 2011, and a Grand Prix with Defame at Sinepes Un Medus in 2005. Karmafree, which is still active by the way, is an alternative bass and vocal duo comprised of Māra on vocals and her husband Dmitry Lisenko on bass formed in 2010 in London, England, playing many festivals and releasing a self-titled demo and video entitled Fresh Millionaire before the duo returned to their homeland Latvia. In 2012 they released their first EP, named Illusions, along with a music video for the song Fragile; after their debut album, Karmafree released a series of singles, with songs like InvisibleValidate Me and #SSDD beautifully representing the evolution of the project, their social and political fights, and of course Māra’s fantastic vocal range. You can listen to a lot more of the music by Karmafree on their official YouTube channel, as well as on their BandCamp page.

It was back in 2015 when Māra was able to present herself to a much broader audience after joining a Riga-based Melodic/Symphonic Death/Black Metal band named Ocularis Infernum, who have been on the road since 2002 but who had released only one demo and one EP before she became their frontwoman. Under the stage name of Māra Sekhmet, she released in 2017 together with the band’s founders Andris and Magnuss the excellent Expired Utopia (which you can purchase from their own BandCamp page or listen in full on Spotify), exploring themes like darkness, occultism and paganism, always embraced by a symphonic and Stygian aura inspired by renowned acts such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth. I personally loved listening to every single second of Expired Utopia, and if you’re also a fan of this fusion of extreme and symphonic music you can have a taste of the band’s darkness and of Māra’s refined gnarls and powerful clean vocals by listening to the songs A Confession Of Defeat and Lost Forest. There’s nothing on the band’s official Facebook page about an upcoming album, concerts nor anything like that since the end of 2018, but let’s hope they’re just taking a break and that the world can enjoy more of the music by Ocularis Infernum in a not-so-distant future.

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Right now, Māra’s main project is her own solo band named MĀRA, a Latvian/German four-piece outfit established in 2018 that plays a modern and sharp amalgamation of Death, Thrash, Alternative and Groove Metal. Currently based in two countries – Germany and Latvia – MĀRA have already played tours and summer festivals all across Europe since their inception, visiting countries like Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany, France and obviously Latvia, and opening for some of the biggest exponents of Extreme Metal such as Sepultura, Krisiun and Satyricon. So far Māra and her henchmen, including her aforementioned husband Dmitry on bass, released in 2018 their debut EP entitled Therapy For An Empath, which you can purchase from their BandCamp page or listen to in full on YouTube, and three music videos for the songs Sell Your Soul, Label Me Insane and Blameshifter, having already won Album Of The Year (with Therapy For An Empath, of course) and Best Vocalist at the  Latvian Metal Music Awards 2018. Moreover, you can enjoy MĀRA’s incendiary performance at the Latvian Metal Music Awards 2018,  which was held at an underground extreme music club in Riga named Melnā Piektdiena, playing the song Label Me Insane live during the event. As you might have already noticed, the name of the band was taken directly from her own name Māra, a very traditional Latvian girl name and, according to Māra herself, in Latvian folklore it’s also the name of a goddess, carrying a lot of strength rooted very deep in where the band comes from, also using Māra’s cross as their logo, a powerful Latvian magic sign.

Regarding her main idols in music, you just need to think of most classic Death, Thrash, Black and Groove Metal bands like Sepultura, Morbid Angel, Slayer, Carcass, Aborted, Cryptopsy and so on, with Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy) being perhaps her biggest idol as a vocalist. Māra even mentioned during an interview that one of her dreams as a musician would be to sing either Territory or Roots Bloody Roots together with Max as a very distinct and powerful duet, showing her total admiration and respect for a man that has undoubtedly revolutionized the way extreme vocalists sing all over the world. Not only that, you can also check all her passion for extreme music and vocalists on her official YouTube channel, where she uploads her own vocal covers for some of the heaviest and most awesome songs of all time, as for example Slipknot’s Psychosocial and The Heretic Anthem, Lamb Of God’s Laid To Rest and Sepultura’s Territory, with Slipknot having a huge influence on her vocal style and taste for music according to Māra herself, in special their 2001 masterpiece Iowa. As a matter of fact, she released her cover version for The Herectic Anthem on the same day Slipkont launched their brand new album We Are Not Your Kind this year, proving how much she loves and follows the band led by Corey Taylor. On a side note, our skillful vocalist also said that all metalheads from Latvia who dedicate a lot of their time to keep the local metal scene going, doing it just for their love for metal with basically no financial reward, also inspire her a lot in life, once again showing Māra has and will always have a beautiful connection with her homeland.

Māra also seems to be crazy four touring and performing live, as she mentioned in an interview that she could simply live out of touring. She enjoys visiting different countries, meeting and playing for different people, and learning about metal scenes everywhere she goes. She has already played in several European countries, and I’m pretty sure she can’t wait to expand her horizons to places like North and South America, Japan and Australia. As aforementioned, Māra and her husband Dmitry are currently residing in Germany (while the other band members, guitarist Denis Melnik and drummer Alberts Mednis, still live in Riga), and the reason why they decided to do that was purely due to music. She said that while metal in Latvia is considered underground and the opportunities for metal bands and artists there are very limited (albeit the internet can be very helpful in terms of worldwide exposure), even taking into account the metal scene in Latvia is healthy and friendly, Germany is the place to be for any type of metal band, complementing by saying that the fact her band is located in two different countries ended up helping them book gigs in more than one country. In addition to that, she said there are no metal radio stations in Latvia, and there are only 4 or 5 metal-oriented pubs in the entire country where local and touring bands can play. Well, let’s say that Māra is one of the most hardworking metal musicians (if not the most) hailing from Latvia that’s trying to change that, putting her beloved homeland on the global metal map even living in Germany.

Last but not least, when asked if she also sings and writes in her mother tongue Latvian and in any other language rather than English, she said although English is her preferred language because she wants her lyrics and messages to be understood by as many people as possible, she also sings and writes lyrics in Latvian and Russian depending on the project she’s working on, as sometimes she feels she wants to communicate only with Latvian and Russian speaking people. In case you want to enjoy about one hour of Māra talking about her career, her goals, her personal life and many other topics in English, I highly recommend you take a shot at an interview she gave to Dani Zed Extreme Music Reviews & Liveshows via Skype a couple of months ago. How lucky is Dani Zed for having the utmost pleasure of talking to such nice and talented metal woman for an extended period of time like that? We need to thank him for uploading the interview on YouTube, and obviously keep supporting Māra on her quest for extreme music in Lativa, in Germany, and anywhere else in the world where powerful and visceral female roars like hers are truly appreciated.

Māra Lisenko’s Official Facebook page
Māra Lisenko’s Official Instagram
Māra Lisenko’s Official YouTube channel
MĀRA’s Official Facebook page
MĀRA’s Official Instagram
MĀRA’s Official YouTube channel
MĀRA’s Official BandCamp page

“I love touring, I could live like that. I love visiting different countries, meeting and playing for different people, learning about metal scenes everywhere I go. It’s very exciting.” – Māra Lisenko

Album Review – Aephanemer / Prokopton (2019)

Blending the fury and harmony of Scandinavian metal with symphonic elements, here comes a French Melodic Death Metal unity ready to show the world what they got with their sophomore album.

If you’re a fan of modern-day Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy, The Agonist, In Flames and Soilwork, I’m sure you’ll love the music found in Prokopton, the sophomore full-length album by French metallers Aephanemer. Blending the fury and harmony of the traditional Scandinavian sound from the Gothenburg scene with several distinct symphonic and epic elements, this talented French four-piece army will captivate your senses with the potency, speed and intricacy found in each one of the eight tracks of their brand new opus, positioning them as one of the most interesting and promising names not only of the current metal scene in their homeland France, but anywhere else in the world where the modernity and specially the intensity of Melodic Death Metal are truly appreciated.

Formed in 2013 in Toulouse, capital of France’s southern Occitanie region, as a one-man band by guitarist Martin Hamiche to release six instrumental pieces inspired by his Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal heroes (with the 2014 EP Know Thyself being forged of those six songs), Aephanemer, which is the merger of the French words “éphémère” (ephemeral) and “fânée” (folded), have been making a name for themselves since becoming a full-bodied group in 2015 when vocalist and guitarist Marion Bascoul, bassist Anthony Delmas (replaced by Lucie Woaye Hune in 2017) and drummer Mickaël Bonnevialle joined Martin in his quest for heavy music. Featuring a classy artwork by Niklas Sundin (Cabin Fever Media), mixed by Dan Swanö (Unisound AB) and mastered by Mika Jussila (Finnvox Studios), Prokopton is an amalgamation of everything the band stands for and what we can expect from them in the future, sounding as exciting as it can be from start to finish.

An epic, Arch Enemy-inspired intro morphs into a more symphonic version of Melodic Death Metal led by Martin’s razor-edged riffs and Marion’s demonic roars in the title-track Prokopton, flowing flawlessly like an arrow high in the sky until its grand finale; whereas  background orchestrations set the tone for the also inspiring The Sovereign, where Mickaël dictates the rhythm with his precise beats while Marion, Martin and Lucie offer the listener a feast of flammable sounds. Epicness keeps flowing from their music in Dissonance Within, another dense, multi-layered composition bringing the best elements from Symphonic and Melodic Death Metal where Marion growls its rebellious lyrics like a she-demon (“Time to fight, no backing down / For I will have no rest until my skill prevails / Disembodied, a whistling sound / The singing of my blade ravages the plain”), and flirting with Symphonic Black Metal at times, Snowblind is a fun headbanging extravaganza with highlights to the pounding drums by Mickaël and another thunderous performance by Marion on vocals, not to mention the song’s majestic atmosphere.

At Eternity’s Gate is an instrumental bridge the likes of Gamma Ray and Arch Enemy that sets the stage for the thrilling Back Again, perfect for slamming into the pit and enjoying a cold pint of beer while the quartet crushes our heads with their instruments, with the band’s stringed trio being in absolute (and totally awesome) sync. In the very progressive, intricate and exciting Bloodline, Marion takes the lead with her Black Metal-like gnarls while the rest of the crew doesn’t let the electricity go down, firing stunning guitar riffs and solos, thunderous bass punches and smashing beats. And last but not least, in the dark and imposing If I Should Die poetry flows majestically form its lyrics (“Maybe it is going to take me nowhere / But I reckon not having to go anywhere / I don’t keep any illusion to hold dear / I just need to be ready to disappear / Void comes from the self alone / Fear from what we believe we own / Stoics across time give an advice / May death be daily before our eyes”) while all band members showcase their refined skills, resulting in a hybrid of a metal opera with the devastation of extreme music.

In a nutshell, Aephanemer are ready to take you on a fun and thrilling music journey through the realms of contemporary Melodic Death Metal with Prokopton, and all you have to do to join them is following the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase their new album directly from their BandCamp page or from iTunes or Amazon, where by the way the album comes with instrumental versions for each and every song as a beyond special bonus from the band to you. Mr. Martin Hamiche had a dream when he started Aephanemer, and now based on the high quality of the music found in Prokopton we can say without a shadow of a doubt that dreams not only do come true, but sometimes they also kick some serious ass for our total delectation.

Best moments of the album: The Sovereign, Dissonance Within and Bloodline.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Primeval Records

Track listing
1. Prokopton 5:13
2. The Sovereign 5:17
3. Dissonance Within 6:12
4. Snowblind 4:24
5. At Eternity’s Gate 2:55
6. Back Again 5:50
7. Bloodline 5:29
8. If I Should Die 9:08

Band members
Marion Bascoul – vocals, rhythm guitar
Martin Hamiche – lead guitar
Lucie Woaye-Hune – bass
Mickaël Bonnevialle – drums

Album Review – Suffering Souls / In Synergy Obscene (2019)

After ten long years, Lord Esgaroth returns with a brand new album presenting a somber and satanic identity which will appeal to all of those who respect and love the Black Metal scene from the 90’s.

Forged in 1994 in the fires of Kümmersbruck, a municipality in the Amberg-Sulzbach district, in Bavaria, Germany under the name Dismal by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Tobias “Lord Esgaroth” Micko, Symphonic Black Metal one-man army Suffering Souls is ready to darken our hearts and minds once again with his epic and stylish extreme music found in his fourth full-length opus, entitled In Synergy Obscene, coming out exactly 10 years after the release of its predecessor Sadistic Goat Complex as if time had not stopped, with all new tracks following the path of the previous album, almost unchanged from the basic principle.

On In Synergy Obscene, Lord Esgaroth presents a somber and satanic identity which will appeal to all of those who respect and love the Black Metal scene from the 90’s, sounding powerful and imposing thanks to the refined sound of all classic instruments, lead guitars and clean vocal passages, creating a new and interesting atmosphere never before seen in any of the works by Suffering Souls. Also feeling a bit more mature than its previous album, In Synergy Obscene brings forward a neat and unique musicality without sounding cheesy or repetitive, showcasing all of Lord Esgaroth’s abilities as a composer, musician and as a loyal servant to the most obscure side of Extreme Metal.

Idolised And Vilified, a melancholic, romantic and cinematic intro the likes of Cradle Of Filth, kicks off the album by setting the tone for the imposing title-track In Synergy Obscene, crushing our senses mercilessly with Lord Esgaroth’s demonic gnarls and his background orchestrations matching perfectly with his infernal Black Metal riffs and solos; and more epicness mixed with his flammable Black Metal hits us in the face in Inheritance Of Irony, where not a single space is left empty, with its guitars, keys and drums invading your senses in a full-bodied feast of symphonic sounds, ending with a long, melodic and extremely beautiful guitar solo for our total delight. That vile start is followed by In Death Reborn, perhaps the least Black Metal of all songs despite Lord Esgaroth’s old school growls and gnarls, sounding very modern and distinct from the rest of the album while its backing vocals feel a bit unstable.

Back to a more symphonic and violent mode, Lord Esgaroth fires a well-balanced fusion of classic Black Metal with melodic and modern nuances titled As The Truth Unfolds, living up to the legacy of bands like Cradle Of Fitlh and Dimmu Borgir and displaying an amazing job done on drums, being intricate and furious at the same time. Then we have The True Endless, another classic composition by Suffering Souls presenting a huge amount of epicness and delicacy coming from the keyboards while its guitars keep slashing our senses, maintaining the album’s ambience very impactful and electric before the most symphonic, melodic and introspective of all songs, The Cynic God, invites us to dance together with Lord Esgaroth, sounding at times like a fantasy movie score. The second to last breath of Symphonic Black Metal by Suffering Souls comes in the form of All You Little Devils, where Lord Esgaroth’s vocals get very close to what Shagrath does with Dimmu Borgir, elevating the song’s taste and potency considerably, whereas the closing hymn Unseen Phenomenon is a feast of blackened, melodic and symphonic sounds and tones led by Lord Esgaroth’s harsh vociferations and blast beats, with its piano and keys building a climatic ending for the album.

It might have taken 10 years for Tobias Micko to morph into his alter-ego Lord Esgaroth again and bring his Suffering Souls back from the underworld, but based on the high quality of the music found in In Synergy Obscene, which you can listen in full on Spotify and purchase from the Schwarzdorn Production’s BandCamp or webstore, from the Season of Mist webstore or from iTunes, the wait was definitely worth it. With that said, I’m sure we’ll start seeing Lord Esgaroth and Suffering Souls a lot more often than only every decade, spreading his darkness upon us and carrying the flag of Symphonic Black Metal high for years to come.

Best moments of the album: Inheritance Of Irony, As The Truth Unfolds and All You Little Devils.

Worst moments of the album: In Death Reborn.

Released in 2019 Schwarzdorn Production

Track listing
1. Idolised And Vilified 2:29
2. In Synergy Obscene 5:30
3. Inheritance Of Irony 9:23
4. In Death Reborn 5:13
5. As The Truth Unfolds 6:28
6. The True Endless 5:16
7. The Cynic God 6:28
8. All You Little Devils 4:49
9. Unseen Phenomenon 6:43

Band members
Tobias “Lord Esgaroth” Micko – vocals, guitars, strings, choirs, drums, programming