Album Review – Rapheumets Well / Enders Door (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: Killing the Colossus.

Released in 2017 Test Your Metal Records

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

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

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Album Review – A Taste Of Fear / God’s Design (2017)

An amazing display of dexterity, professionalism and devotion to Thrash and Death Metal by a promising Italian quartet, representing to perfection what the band is all about.

Musically inspired by old school Thrash and Death Metal bands such as Testament, Kreator, Death and Obituary, just to mention some of them, while the lyrics are essentially based on moods, feelings, sensations and on social injustices, God’s Design, the brand new album by Italian Technical Thrash/Death Metal act A Taste Of Fear, is not only a top-notch high-speed feast of metallic and belligerent sounds, but it also represents to perfection what this Rome-based four-piece band is all about and their goals in the world of extreme music.

A Taste Of Fear came alive in 2014 thanks to bassist Michele Attolino (Avanguard, Ruinthrone, Blooddawn) and his deep passion for Thrash and Death Metal, being joined at later stages of the band by the versatile vocalist Stefano Sciamanna (Endaemona), the unstoppable drummer Flavio Castagnoli (Exhume to Consume, Forgotten Lore), and finally the experienced guitarist Emiliano Pacioni (Lunarsea, Catales). After the lineup reached its final shape and form, it was time for those four Italian metallers to begin crushing with their unrelenting music, culminating with the release of God’s Design now in 2017, an album that will definitely leave some good scars on you due to its high level of intricacy, progressiveness and, above all, sheer aggression.

Michele kicks off the title-track God’s Design in an eerie way with his mesmerizing bass, being smoothly joined by the other band members, always sounding very technical and fresh in a solid hybrid of Thrash and Death Metal with hints of Black Metal, with Stefano switching his gentle clean vocals to an even more demonic version of Mille Petrozza. Following that excellent start we have Into Hell, with no slow or atmospheric intros, but only sheer Death Metal bursting with dexterity and stamina where Flavio seems to be in ecstasy while smashing his drums. Moreover, the great string duo comprised of Emiliano and Michele delivers cutting riffs and metallic low-tuned sounds respectively, making the whole song even more impactful.

A calm and serene intro once again explodes into brutal devastation in Out Of Place, a fast-paced creation by the quartet with highlights to the amazing synchronicity between Flavio’s beats and Emiliano’s riffage, not to mention its Flamenco-inspired short break; whereas A Feared Secret brings the most electrifying elements found in Thrash and Death Metal, with Stefano’s harsh gnarls getting more piercing and ferocious. In other words, this is a full-bodied hymn perfect for headbanging or slamming into the pit with its almost 8 minutes of a very intricate and technical sonic attack, all enhanced by an amazing guitar solo by Emiliano. And Make Suffer, a high-octane chant led by the demented growls by Stefano and the furious drumming by Flavio, feels like a kick-ass fusion of Kreator and Carcass. Simply sing its chorus along with the band and crush your skull into the circle pit to this awesome composition, and don’t forget to thoroughly enjoy the song’s superb bass solo.

In Ripped Soul’s Gift, the heavy, headbanging riffs by Emiliano impregnate the air, building a truly demonic ambience for Stefano’s hellish screams in this nonstop sonic demolition tailored for fans of gory and menacing Death Metal, followed by The Passage, which sounds considerably thrashier than its predecessor (in special the frantic drumming by Flavio). This is a good sample of what we can call Blackened Thrash Metal due to its darker and more aggressive sounds, with Emiliano and Michele pounding their strings ferociously from start to finish, emanating keen, demonic sounds to pulverize our ears. And last but not least we have A Taste Of Fear, the song that carries the band’s name, a 7-minute Death Metal onslaught full of demonic guitar lines, thunderous bass and drums and the always deranged growling by Stefano, also showcasing hints of progressiveness to enhance its taste. Moreover, every single second of this tune bursts with anger, hatred and obviously fear, ending with another sensational guitar solo by Emiliano.

If you want to know more about A Taste Of Fear, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud, and grab your copy of God’s Design (available for a full listen on Spotify) at their own BandCamp page, at the Time to Kill Records’ Big Cartel, at Qobuz or on Amazon. God’s Design might not be the revolution in heavy music, and I truly believe that was never the band’s intention with it, but it’s indeed an amazing display of dexterity, professionalism and devotion to Thrash and Death Metal by this Italian quartet, and let’s hope the band releases several albums in the future with the same punch and finesse as their debut endeavor.

Best moments of the album: Into Hell, A Feared Secret and Make Suffer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Time To Kill Records

Track listing
1. God’s Design 6:08
2. Into Hell 4:04
3. Out Of Place 5:24
4. A Feared Secret 7:48
5. Make Suffer 5:18
6. Ripped Soul’s Gift 4:55
7. The Passage 5:56
8. A Taste Of Fear 7:27

Band members
Stefano Sciamanna – vocals
Emiliano Pacioni – guitars
Michele Attolino – bass
Flavio Castagnoli – drums

Album Review – Valgrind / Seal Of Phobos EP (2017)

Behold the brand new blood-claiming opus by this long-established Italian act, highly recommended for fans of the crushing sounds of old school Death Metal.

Valgrind is not only the main entrance to Valhalla in Norse mythology, but also the name of a four-piece Italian Death Metal brigade (born from the ashes of the ultra-underground act Necrospell in 1993, in the city of Modena) who, one year after the release of their widely acclaimed full-length album Speech Of The Flame, are back with a new blood-claiming EP titled Seal Of Phobos, a great option for fans of the crushing music by Morbid Angel, Monstrosity and Cruciamentum, and a sound message to the world of heavy music by a band that has been on a very positive roll since being reborn from the ashes back in 2008.

Featuring a stylish artwork by the band’s own vocalist and bassist Daniele Lupidi, who’s not only a talented musician but an accomplished artist as well, Seal Of Phobos sounds simply pulverizing from start to finish, with each song of the EP presenting a high level of dexterity, aggression and feeling in the form of Technical Death Metal. “This is probably our most aggressive material to date. All of the four tracks are extremely intense and we decided to go with a different vocal approach for every tune to give each one its own strong identity. We’re also extremely happy to have Jonny Petterson (Wombbath, Ashcloud, Henry Kane) doing some guest vocals on ‘Ekphora’s Day’. Last but not least, this is the first studio appearance for our new guitarist Umberto Poncina, who also engineered and mixed the EP”, said Daniele about how Seal Of Phobos was created and his expectations with it.

The truly bestial drumming by Gianmarco Agosti arises from the pits of hell to hit us in the face before the other band members begin their demolishing feast of Death Metal in the opening track, the amazing The Endless Circle, where Daniele delivers traditional growls à la Cannibal Corpse while the guitar duo Massimiliano Elia and Umberto Poncina are spot-on with their shredding and solos. And their sonic carnage goes on with an even more violent and blackened composition, New Born Deceit, where Daniele and Gianmarco are on their most infernal mode delivering enraged growls and insanely aggressive beats and fills respectively. Moreover, fans of old school Death Metal will crack their skulls into the circle pit to this hostile tune during their live performances without a shadow of a doubt.

Epic sounds in Prelude to Downfall (Interlude) warm up our ears for another Death Metal attack by Valgrind, this time titled Traitors Will Bleed, with Massimiliano and Umberto incinerating our skins with their metallic riffs. The whole song sounds very technical and rhythmic, with the intricate beats by Gianmarco building the perfect ambience for Daniele and his guttural vocals, ending with a nice Slayer-inspired guitar solo. And lastly, featuring guest vocalist Jonny Pettersson, we have Ekphora’s Day, a devastating chant showcasing a vile drumming, a neck-breaking main riff and beyond aggressive growls, not to mention its lyrics which can be considered the epitome of Death Metal (“Sacrifices, spill the blood / Those who died need final offers / Walking nightmares gathered around the flock / Ekphora’s day / Everything in this rotten earth is terminal / Lamentations guide mankind to the final resting place”), with all those elements being thoroughly connected until the sonic madness generated by the band fades away into a cryptic conclusion.

In case you want to take an initial full-listen at Seal Of Phobos before buying the album, you can find it in its entirety on YouTube, but I’m sure after the first song you’ll already run to the band’s own Big Cartel to grab either the regular version of the album or the special CD + T-shirt bundle, which you can also find at the Everlasting Spew Record’s webshop by clicking HERE or HERE, as well as at the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp or at Discogs. I’m sure that after listening to Seal Of Phobos you’ll also go after the previous releases by Valgrind, a band that knows how to deliver to us avid metalheads high-quality old school Technical Death Metal with tons of aggressiveness and rawness added to the mix.

Best moments of the album: The Endless Circle and New Born Deceit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. The Endless Circle 4:07
2. New Born Deceit 4:09
3. Prelude to Downfall (Interlude) 0:47
4. Traitors Will Bleed 3:24
5. Ekphora’s Day 5:03

Band members
Daniele Lupidi – Vocals, bass
Massimiliano Elia – lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards
Umberto Poncina – rhythm and lead guitars, keyboards
Gianmarco Agosti – drums

Guest musician
Jonny Pettersson – additional vocals on “Ekphora’s Day”

Album Review – Virulent Depravity / Fruit of the Poisoned Tree (2017)

Technical Death Metal cannot get more intense, complex and devastating than what Tennessee-based guitarist, bassist and vocalist Colin Butler and his henchmen have to offer in their debut full-length album.

If you’re an admirer of the most technical form of Death Metal, you’ll be excited to know that Virulent Depravity, the brainchild of Nashville, Tennessee-based guitarist, bassist and vocalist Colin Butler, have just released their debut full-length album, a lesson in dexterity and devastation named Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, and that the final result goes beyond the boundaries of awesomeness. Featuring a classic artwork by American designer Justin Abraham (Apotheosys, A Loathing Requiem, Engulfed in Blackness), the album will appeal to fans of Spawn Of Possession, First Fragment, Archspire, Origin, Necrophagist, Deeds of Flesh, Decrepit Birth and tons of other Death Metal acts who unite the words “finesse” and “ravage” in the most electrifying and precise way imaginable.

Formed In 2015, Virulent Depravity might be a new name to many in the world of Death Metal, but its band members are far from being rookies in the fields of extreme music. The impressive musical abilities by Colin attracted the attention of well-known guitarist Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem), who joined the band in 2016 on rhythm guitar and additional solos. Furthermore, the line-up is rounded out by Svart Crown drummer Kévin Paradis, whose incredible playing is the perfect foil to Colin and Malcolm’s dazzling performances, resulting in additional layers of complexity, speed and energy added to the already flammable music by Virulent Depravity, as you’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy in Fruit of the Poisoned Tree due to the album’s fantastic mixing and production.

Colin and Malcolm begin their technical shredding attack in the brutish but still very harmonious Serpentine Messiah, a perfect sample of modern Technical Death Metal where the beastly Kévin provides intricate beats and fills that complement all guitar and bass lines flawlessly, not to mention the sick guitar solo by guest musician Mark Hawkins. After such amazing start, how about a modernized and more metallic version of Cannibal Corpse, titled Spineless Obedience, a demolishing anthem tailored for slamming into the pit? The violent and fast growls by Colin effectively follow the song’s frantic riffs and beats, and once again it’s impressive how demented Kévin sounds with his beats. And their insanity in the form of extreme music goes on with another belligerent creation named Your Demise, where Colin and his bandmates deliver a precise fusion of fury and complexity, sounding more demonic than ever.

Blasting sheer violence through their riffs and solos, Colin and Malcolm have an outstanding performance in Desecrating Eden, while Kévin continues his maniacal onrush behind his drums (not to mention the song’s beyond technical ending), followed by the title-track Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, which not only maintains the intricacy at an absurdly high level, but it brings even more aggressiveness due to the amazing job done by Colin with his deranged gnarls and Kévin with his sick drumming. Put differently, no one can survive such apocalyptic tornado of Technical Death Metal. And guess what? In the next tune, named Bad Drug, they don’t waste a single second with intros or other shenanigans, firing pure Death Metal played to perfection, with its visceral lyrics complementing the song’s already vile musicality (“You’re so sick / You’re infecting the weak / You’re making excuses for all your mistakes / You waste of skin / You remind us all / No matter how high we become / We crash to the ground / You’ve had the devil inside you / You’ve been carrying scars for most of your life / Until finally you found a way to push it down”), also featuring an awesome guitar solo by guest musician Nick Padovani.

Colin definitely knows how to canalize all his hatred and wrath into his unstoppable growling as we can witness in Beyond the Point of No Return, an uproarious chant with progressive elements added to its musicality, in special to its extremely elaborate bass lines and vicious drumming. Then we have Only Human, where we face a calmer intro not seen in any of the previous songs. Although it takes a while for the music to take off, it fairly succeeds in keeping the album at a high level of violence; however, it doesn’t sound as exciting as all previous songs, even with its interesting progressive break and the great guitar oslo by guest musician Craig Peters. Back to a more demonic and rabid mode, Colin once again leads his horde growling like a beast in Mechanized Defilement, while Kévin adds so much intricacy to the musicality with his beats and fills it’s hard to explain in words. The song also features another kick-ass solo by another guest guitarist, this time Elijah Whitehead, resulting in a song that is excellent for some sick headbanging, slamming into the pit or simply enjoying its complex lines. Lastly, in Crushed by Futuristic Filth, we’re treated to a short atmospheric intro before all hell breaks loose in a majestic display of extreme music featuring absolutely mighty lyrics (“Sitting atop my throne of flesh and bone / My power is absolute / My subjects are waiting idly / Their silence is deafening / Embalmed in trash and kerosene / At once triumphant and disgusting”), obscure Latin chants by guest vocalist Nathan “Sounds” Bounds, a soulful guitar solo by guest musician Sims Cashion, a moody Jazz-ish break thanks to the keys by Jimmy Pitts, and a wonderful climatic ending on the piano also provided by Jimmy.

Why don’t you go to YouTube and take a very good listen at Fruit of the Poisoned Tree in its entirety? I’m sure you’ll get stunned by the precision with which Colin, Malcolm and Kévin blend melodious lines with total chaos. Then simply go to Facebook to start following such amazing band, and purchase the album at their BandCamp page, at The Artisan Era Records’ BandCamp or webstore (where you can choose between the regular CD or the special CD + T-shirt combo), on iTunes or on Amazon. Trust me, Technical Death Metal cannot get more complete and intense than this.

Best moments of the album: Serpentine Messiah, Fruit of the Poisoned Tree and Crushed by Futuristic Filth.

Worst moments of the album: Only Human.

Released in 2017 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing   
1. Serpentine Messiah 4:38
2. Spineless Obedience 4:01
3. Your Demise 4:02
4. Desecrating Eden 6:13
5. Fruit of the Poisoned Tree 4:01
6. Bad Drug 3:42
7. Beyond the Point of No Return 3:33
8. Only Human 7:48
9. Mechanized Defilement 6:05
10. Crushed by Futuristic Filth 7:41

Band members
Colin Butler – vocals, guitar, bass
Malcolm Pugh – lead & rhythm guitar
Kévin Paradis – drums

Guest musicians
Jimmy Pitts – keyboards on “Desecrating Eden” and “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”
Mark Hawkins – guitar solo on “Serpentine Messiah”
Nick Padovani – guitar solo on “Bad Drug”
Craig Peters – guitar solo on “Only Human”
Elijah Whitehead – guitar solo on “Mechanized Defilement”
Sims Cashion – guitar solo on “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”
Nathan “Sounds” Bounds – guest vocals and Latin chants on “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”

Album Review – Maze Of Sothoth / Soul Demise (2017)

Inspired by the stunning creations of American writer H. P. Lovecraft, behold the debut hammering opus spawned from one of the newest underground Death Metal acts from Italy.

Rating4

cover-art-2000xThe debut full-length album by Italian Technical Death Metal horde Maze Of Sothoth, titled Soul Demise, is not only the first brutal, hammering opus spawned from one of the newest underground acts from Italy, but also a sensational tribute to the stunning creations of the unparalleled American writer H. P. Lovecraft. For instance, the band’s own name was inspired by Yog-Sothoth, a cosmic entity in the fictional Cthulhu Mythos and Dream Cycle of Mr. H. P. Lovecraft, giving you an idea of how strong the admiration of this up-and-coming band from Bergamo, a city northeast of Milan in the Lombardy region in Italy, is for one of the most influential writers in the history of horror fiction.

Founded by guitarist Fabio Marasco in January 2009, the initial sound fused massive influences from Morbid Angel, Behemoth, Dying Fetus, Nile and Slayer, with the band recording their first demo Guardian of the Gate in 2011. Five years after the demo was brought into being, Maze Of Sothoth are more than ready to storm the world with Soul Demise, an album that transpires brutality and harmony, with the cover art by Italian artist Ivory Crux perfectly translating into a hellish image the band’s obscure music. Furthermore, there isn’t a single song in Soul Demise that sounds soft or gentle, and that in Death Metal is unquestionably a synonym of excellence.

Ominous and devilish, the intro Cthulhu’s Calling opens the gates to the netherworld, setting the tone for drummer Matteo Moioli to begin his sonic demolition in the pulverizing Lies, with the metallic riffs blasted by Fabio and Riccardo Rubini complementing the band’s evil sonority, being highly recommended for fans of old school Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel. Their putrid and technical havoc continues with more visceral riffs and demented beats in Seed of Hatred, where I recommend you try to follow the song’s demonic lyrics together with lead singer and bassist Cristiano Marchesi and his guttural growls (“Our union will create a new form of evil / Put in your womb the seed of hatred / Your sacrifice won’t be vain / Errant demons populate the earth”). And smashing every living creature in their path, Maze Of Sothoth fire another bestial composition full of classic Death Metal riffs named Multiple Eyes, with highlights to the unstoppable drums by Matteo and the grisly vociferations by Cristiano, while the guitar solos by Fabio and Riccardo bring more balance to the song’s melody.

mosbandpicEven heavier than its predecessors, The Outsider is pure aggressiveness and darkness in the form of music, with Matteo displaying an outstanding performance on drums by being brutal and progressive at the same time. Put differently, this is top-notch Death Metal for lovers of the genre with a supernatural ending. The Dark Passenger brings forward elements of Progressive and Blackened Death Metal in its beginning, suddenly exploding into an extreme music carnage where Fabio and Riccardo once again pulverize our ears with their riffs and solos, whereas in At the Mountain of Madness the whole band showcases their refined techniques while Cristiano growls the song’s traditional Death Metal lyrics in a hellish way (“The awakening of the ancient ones is arrived / From their everlasting slumber / Cryptic creatures never seen before”). It could have been a bit shorter, though, but nothing that harms the overall quality of the album.

Increasing their heaviness and being as cavernous as usual, the band offers us Blind, a fast-paced infernal hymn perfect for getting completely crushed into the circle pit, with its guitars sounding angry and demented just the way we like in Death Metal. After that hurricane of extreme music we have Azzaihg’nimehc, a dark instrumental bridge to the last song of the album, the berserk Divine Sacrifice, where Matteo blasts his most furious beats and fills while Cristiano sounds like an ogre on vocals. If you survive this diabolical composition, I’m sure you’ll hit play again and go back to the beginning of such excellent album as any old school death metaller would do.

You can get more details on Maze Of Sothoth at their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, as well as purchase Soul Demise (which by the way can be streamed in its entirety HERE) through their BandCamp page, or at the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp page and webstore. Maze Of Sothoth are technical, ruthless and ready to conquer the world of extreme music, and Soul Demise will certainly help them spread their brutality all over the world in the most effective way possible.

Best moments of the album: Lies, The Outsider and The Dark Passenger.

Worst moments of the album: At the Mountain of Madness.

Released in 2017 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Cthulhu’s Calling 1:50
2. Lies 5:16
3. Seed of Hatred 3:19
4. Multiple Eyes 4:36
5. The Outsider 5:35
6. The Dark Passenger 4:41
7. At the Mountain of Madness 5:03
8. Blind 3:55
9. Azzaihg’nimehc 1:53
10. Divine Sacrifice 3:45

Band members
Cristiano Marchesi – vocals, bass
Fabio Marasco – guitars, synth
Riccardo Rubini – guitars
Matteo Moioli – drums

Album Review – Burial in the Sky / Persistence of Thought (2016)

An album that effectively unites the devastation of Death Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, brought into being by an American band that knows exactly how to create beautiful extreme music in a compelling and atmospheric way.

Rating5

burial-in-the-sky-album-artI guess I sometimes tend to overuse the word “atmospheric” in some of the reviews done here at The Headbanging Moose, but in the case of Persistence of Thought, the first full-length album by American Atmospheric Tech-Death Metal act Burial in the Sky, there’s no better word to describe the technical and whimsical assault of extreme music brought forth by the band, always interspersed between tranquil and at times psychedelic passages. And although you’ll find hints of the musicality by bands such as Nihil and Fallujah spread all over the creations by Burial in the Sky, they’re far from being a copy of either.

Formed by multi-instrumentalists William Okronglis and James Tomedi in the year of 2013 in Mount Carmel, a small city located in the state of Pennsylvania, United States, Burial in the Sky already released two EP’s prior to Persistence of Thought, those being Psychosis (2013) and Transcendence (2014). Joining them on Persistence of Thought is world class drummer Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Abigail Wiliams), whose expert skills perfectly complement each song created by the duo. Add to that recipe the otherworldly album art by American artist Nathan Lee, and there you have an excellent option for lovers of the aggression found in Death Metal with the subtlety and finesse of progressive music.

In the opening track, entitled Entry I, serenity invades our ears and smooth piano notes bring peace to our souls, but suddenly all that calmness turns into an avalanche of Technical Death Metal led by the intricate drumming by Samus, changing completely the course of action in a very solid way. The band blends sheer brutality with melodious lines and a beautiful ambiance, going from total devastation to psychedelic passages (like what happens for instance at around four minutes) and back to their Dream Theater-sish extreme music, captivating the listener from start to finish. The second part of what can be called their “Entry Trilogy”, Entry II, follows a similar pattern, with William providing deep growls and interesting riffs while James fires his soulful guitar solos. Furthermore, the last part of the song is an outstanding sonic onslaught led by the unstoppable Samus on drums, including even hints of Black Metal in his beats and, therefore, increasing the album’s musical range. And closing the trilogy we have Entry III, a dark tune transpiring melancholy, where delicacy is found in the form of subtle guitar lines amidst all desperate screams and hellish drums blasted by the band, with highlights to the pleasant guitar duo at the end of the song.

burial-in-the-skyThe second part of the album begins with Anchors, where Burial in the Sky hypnotize us with a whimsical rhythm and a touch of finesse before charging our minds with their brutal musicality, with James delivering more of his amazing solos whereas Samus continues to display a high level of complexity on drums. This is a song highly recommended for banging your head with your eyes closed to properly enjoy the sound from every single instrument, until it reaches its climatic ending. Galaxy of Ghosts is the first song of the album to start in full force, already exhibiting the violence and anger found in the music by Burial in the Sky from the very first second. Not only this is a very technical composition presenting interesting tempo changes and guitar lines, but also pay attention to the awesome synchronicity between guitars and drums, and to how the band gradually increases the song’s electricity before ending it in a pensive way. And Dimensions Divide, the last blast of technical and furious Death Metal in Persistence of Thought, maintains the overall quality of the album really high, with its blazing guitars and top-notch drumming guiding the musicality, which once again fades into atmospheric sounds and pure melancholy.

In a nutshell, Persistence of Thought might not be an album for the masses due to the intricacy and heaviness of the music present in each one of its tracks, but that doesn’t mean all types of fans of heavy music can’t have a good time listening to it. Simply sit down, relax and absorb the music by Burial in the Sky, or you can also stand up and slam into the pit if that’s your cup of tea. You can purchase Persistence of Thought at their BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon and other different locations, and by doing that you will show your support to this up-and-coming band that knows exactly how to unite the realms of devastation and complexity in a compelling and atmospheric way.

Best moments of the album: Anchors and Galaxy of Ghosts.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Entry I 6:02
2. Entry II 5:47
3. Entry III 4:40
4. Anchors 7:29
5. Galaxy of Ghosts 5:52
6. Dimensions Divide 4:42

Band members
William Okronglis – vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keys, percussion
James Tomedi – lead guitar, bass, keys, mandolin, slide guitar, percussion
Samus Paulicelli – drums (session)

Guest musician
Danny Greene – additional synths

Album Review – Denominate / Those Who Beheld The End (2016)

Behold the ascension of an awesome band from Finland that adds a lot of progressiveness to their Death Metal without losing the genre’s core viciousness.

Those_Who_Beheld_the_End_Cover640It’s not a secret to anyone that Finland always delivers when the music in question is Melodic Death Metal. However, the Land of a Thousand Lakes now offers a more brutal and old school version of the genre the likes of Death and Carcass thanks to Progressive/Technical Death Metal band Denominte. This powerful five-piece act has just released their debut full-length album entitled Those Who Beheld The End, experimenting with melody and progressiveness while at the same time keeping the heaviness and aggression of Death Metal flowing from each of the album’s seven demolishing compositions.

Formed in 2009 in the city of Oulu under the name Encrypted and having released their debut EP named Realms of Confusion in 2014, the band decided to change their name to Denominate in 2015 (with no changes to their lineup, though) as well as to increase their focus on the harmonious parts of their music instead of just pounding their instruments manically. As a result, in Those Who Beheld The End, recorded and mixed at a private studio in Oulu in two separate sessions due to their studio engineer’s personal projects (which ended up delaying the release date for some time), Denominate bring forward a strong balance of violence and melody that will please both fans of old school Death Metal and admirers of the more modern sounding of Melodic Death Metal.

As soon as you start listening to the opening track, In A Chasm Of Stone, you’ll be able to notice those core ingredients in their music due to the high level of intricacy found in their guitar lines. As aforementioned, they play a very technical version of Death Metal without losing the genre’s inner havoc, with the exceptional drummer Joni Määttä sounding like a machine gun and, consequently, bringing an additional layer of brutality to their music. Degradation is an old school chant led by the vicious growling by Ville Männikkö, and even with all the devastation going on you can still savor the progressiveness of the riffs and solos by guitarists Kimmo Raappana and Eetu Pylkkänen; whereas the heavier-than-hell bass lines by Tuomas Pesälä kick off the obscure song Penumbra, enhanced by the low-tuned gnarls by Ville and the unstoppable beast by Joni, guiding the listener to darkness. In other words, this is definitely the type of composition that will pave Denominate’s path to stardom in extreme music.

Promokuva_3The Demented Scholar of Abatos not only has an awesome name, but it’s also an extremely well-crafted composition where bass guitar and riffs generate the requested obscurity for Ville to keep growling and screaming. Moreover, this progressive song, less bestial and presenting more melodious lines, perfectly depicts the new concept proposed by the band, and as you’ll be able to notice while listening to it the final result is quite interesting. And following that stampede of progressiveness we have the 11-minute visceral hymn Torments of Silence, starting with a somber acoustic intro before darkness takes over the sonority and the band’s crushing Death Metal dominates your mind. Not only the sharp riffs by Kimmo and Eetu take the spotlight, but add to that the song’s precise tempo changes and the sonic impact of this excellent full-bodied composition increases considerably.

A very technical riffage together with blasting drums can only result in good music, which is the case in Apeirophobia (the fear of eternity), highly recommended for guitarists that love extreme music thanks to the job done by both Kimmo and Eetu, not to mention the song’s thoughtful and hellish lyrics (“Arising from a need, to achieve and repeat / tainted by fear to be doomed to predict / every action from here to eternity / linked to the past, past to the future / the ageless serpent ever devouring itself / the Styx ever-flowing, towards the source”). And lastly, walking through the realms of Melodic Death Metal we have Terrestrial Funeral, one final shot of progressiveness blended with endless pugnacity where the bass lines by Tuomas get even more complex than before, while Ville keeps screaming with anger in his heart until an excellent guitar solo concludes the song and the album.

In summary, the music found in Those Who Beheld The End might not be that very traditional form of Death Metal that stormed the world decades ago, but it maintains the vicious essence of those golden years without sounding outdated or repetitive, pointing to a very promising future of the genre. With that said, behold the ascension of this awesomely heavy band by visiting their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, and grab your copy of Those Who Beheld The End (you can listen to the entire album HERE) at Record Shop X, at the Inverse Records’ webstore, at Denominate’s BandCamp page, on iTunes and several other locations.

Best moments of the album: In A Chasm Of Stone and Penumbra.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. In A Chasm Of Stone 5:08
2. Degradation 4:05
3. Penumbra 5:07
4. The Demented Scholar of Abatos 5:40
5. Torments of Silence 11:16
6. Apeirophobia 6:04
7. Terrestrial Funeral 5:49

Band members
Ville Männikkö – vocals
Kimmo Raappana – guitars
Eetu Pylkkänen – guitars
Tuomas Pesälä – bass
Joni Määttä – drums

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

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

Rating5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

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

Band members
Chris Dearing – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Antlion / The Prescient (2015)

A progressive, technical and “psychedethic” album by a Canadian band that has all it takes to dominate the world of Death Metal.

Rating4

antlion artHave you ever heard of the expression “psychedethic” in your life? That’s how Canadian Progressive/Technical Death Metal band Antlion refers to their music, a powerful combination of the wrath found in Death Metal with an unbounded burst of groove and progressiveness. Based on what their debut full-length album The Prescient has to offer, I must agree this new term created by the band should be added to the dictionary, and as soon as you hit play you’ll have the perfect explanation to that in the form of high-quality Canadian metal.

Although the band was formed in 2012 in the city of Ottawa, Canada, it’s just now in 2015 that they’re releasing their first material, which for me at least indicates they might be extremely rigorous with the quality of their compositions, right? Anyway, featuring a more-than-psychedelic album art by Chris Volion (The Gilley van Weirden Workshop), The Prescient has all it takes to get deep into your mind and make you feel completely dazed, so exquisite the album is. And especially if you’re a musician, pay good attention to the details those guys offer within each and every song, and you might have encountered a new favorite band for your collection.

What seems like it’s going to be just relaxing progressive music in the opening track, Incubation, suddenly turns into a wild feast of Progressive Death Metal for fans of Tool and Mastodon, with guitarists Shane Williams and Joe Kruger giving a lesson in creativity with their strings. In the amazing Hubris, imagination and complexity keep walking hand in hand, with drummer Arend Nijhuis stealing the spotlight with his breaks and double bass, sounding as if Dream Theater and Cannibal Corpse merged into one band. And Cycle of Failure presents Jazz elements in a crazy journey guided by Shane and Joe, as if there were three or four songs in one due to its progressiveness.

The next tune, named Hive, flirts with Melodic Deah Metal by providing the listener awesome guttural vocals and flowing electricity. It’s definitely one of the best tracks of the album due to its excellent riffs and rhythm, not to mention its violent ending, before A Seer’s Elegy showcases another display of heaviness and creativity by the band, with Adam kicking ass on both vocals and bass. I would say this song has all the “attributes” of a serial killer, being violent but extremely methodical and/or surgical at the same time.

Spire offers an awesome blend of Groove and Progressive Metal (it can’t get any crazier than this!), with its background effects enhancing the song’s oddity and, once again, Arend providing the listener incredible beats and breaks. And as a final treat for us metalheads, Antlion bring forth an insane two-piece title-track, with the first part, The Prescient (Part I), delivering madness, beautiful riffs and lots of variations, being heavier than most tracks of the album mainly due to its resonant bass lines; and the second part,The Prescient (Part II), concluding the album in a solid and progressive way, again including hints of Jazz to provide extra layers of intricacy to it.

All this metallic lunacy can be found at their official Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can find The Prescient for sale at the band’s BandCamp page. If you’re not only a connoisseur of Death Metal, but also a fan of visionary metal bands, I must say The Prescient might have a significant impact on your headbanging life, as it’s indeed an important breakthrough in this “psychedethic” band’s path to conquer the world of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Hubris and Hive.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Incubation 4:46
2. Hubris 5:55
3. Cycle of Failure 6:02
4. Hive 4:34
5. A Seer’s Elegy 4:10
6. Spire 6:18
7. The Prescient (Part I) 3:53
8. The Prescient (Part II) 4:37

Band members
Adam Pell – vocals, bass
Shane Williams – guitar
Joe Kruger – guitar
Arend Nijhuis – drums

Album Review – Gory Blister / The Fifth Fury (2014)

It’s time for these talented Italian Death Metallers to unleash the Fifth Fury upon humanity.

Rating4

03. Gory Blister - ArtworkThis year has been more than amazing for Death Metal so far, as there have been tons of kick-ass albums, lots of shredding, huge doses of violence, and thousands of excellent reasons to bang our heads and slam into the circle pits. Joining that demented “2014 Hall of Rage” we welcome The Fifth Fury, the fifth full-length album by Italian Technical Death Metal band Gory Blister.

Formed in the 90’s in Milan, Italy, Gory Blister has recently been through some lineup changes, which includes vocalist John St John (Statica Nera, Orthodox) teaming up with the band in 2012 and more recently the addition of Emi Dattolo (Faust, Illogicist, Eternal Tragedy) as their new bassist. Those changes seem to have had a very positive effect to the band’s musicality and energy, which together with their usual lyric themes such as psychology, poetry and outer space result in some very entertaining extreme music, especially for fans of more technical and melodic Death Metal.

With its blazing guitar duo intro, the opening track Psycho Crave sets the tone of the whole album: a total fuckin’ music madness full of insane blast beats by Joe Laviola, which together with some interesting riffs provide an eerie atmosphere to the listener. Besides, its technical shredding sounds like a heavier version of Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy, which in my opinion is always a good thing. Thresholds, a more brutal but very melodic tune, showcases what John St John is capable of doing with his voice, switching from deeper growls the likes of Krisiun and Deicide to more harsh vocals similar to Jeff Walker from Carcass.

gory blisterFollowing those two sonic tornadoes, the band keeps the momentum going with the fast drumming and ghastly vocals in Toxamine, which disturbing lyrics (“Stomach ulceration, hate perceived / Your blood doesn’t clot / In full clarity of mind / killing is your only wish / Your skin turns red”) turn it into one of the best songs of the album; and Devouring Me, another shredding attack led by Raff with a very melancholic intro. By the way, it’s amazing how an extreme band like Gory Blister can create such atmospheric music without keyboards or synths, don’t you agree?

The dark title-track, The Fifth Fury, narrates the story of “all furies”: First Fury (Tisiphone), Second Fury (Megaera), Third Fury (Alecto), Fourth Fury (Nemesis), and of course, the Fifth Fury created by the band. In Greek mythology, the Furies (or Erinyes) were female chthonic deities of vengeance, sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses”. By that you can have an idea of how obscure and heavy this song is, also perfectly represented in the album art. Right after all that darkness, comes one of the best songs of the album, if not the best of all, named Prometheus Scars, with its ferocious instrumental, diabolic vocals and great guitar lines. In addition, it has  a meaningful storyline too, as “Prometheus is a Titan who sided with Zeus and the ascending Olympian gods in the vast cosmological struggle against Cronus and the other Titans.”

The last part of the album is not as awesome as all previous tracks, but that doesn’t mean it’s not badass too, starting with (Meet Me) In the Mass Grave, a decent track focusing on a more traditional Death Metal with highlights to the strong bass lines by Emi, followed by the very technical The Grey Machinery, with its hints of Black and Thrash Metal and potent guitar riffs and solos, and finally the bonus track Heretic Infected Orchestra, which starts with a somber piano before becoming a 100% orchestral song with no vocals at all, totally different from the rest of the album and something I would only expect from bands such as Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir.

To sum up, The Fifth Fury, which is available on iTunes and at the official Sliptrick Records online store, ends up being an absolutely fun and fresh heavy music album, especially due to the good distance kept from pedestrian Death Metal, and for offering us all some intelligent content to make us think and learn more about the topics “discussed”. May the Fifth Fury be unleashed upon us!

Best moments of the album: Psycho Crave, Toxamine and Prometheus Scars.

Worst moments of the album: (Meet Me) In the Mass Grave and The Grey Machinery.

Released in 2014 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Psycho Crave 4:26
2. Thresholds 3:30
3. Toxamine 4:15
4. Devouring Me 4:18
5. The Fifth Fury 4:47
6. Prometheus Scars 3:32
7. (Meet Me) In the Mass Grave 3:52
8. The Grey Machinery 3:37

Bonus track
9. Heretic Infected Orchestra 3:34

Band members
John St John – vocals
Raff – guitar
Emi – bass guitar
Joe Laviola – drums