Album Review – Nemesis / The War Is On (2020)

Waging war on mankind, this all-female Melodic Death Metal unity from Serbia will pulverize your senses with their astonishing debut album.

If you’re a fan of female-fronted Melodic Death Metal and old school Death Metal bands the likes of Arch Enemy, The Agonist, Nervosa and Abnormality, you’ll undoubtedly have an absolute blast with Belgrade, Serbia-based all-female Melodic Death Metal unity Nemesis, who has recently released their debut full-length installment entitled The War Is On. Mixed, mastered and produced by Luka Matković at Citadela Sound Production, and featuring a modern artwork and a sharp design by Serbian artists Vladimir Milovanović and Branislav Crvenkovic, The War Is On offers us all a superb balance between sheer brutality and melodious passages, captivating our senses from start to finish and presenting all the ability and passion for heavy music by frontwoman Sanja Drča, guitarists Aleksandra Petrović and Tijana Milivojević, bassist Biljana Sovilj and drummer Selena Simić, therefore proving it might have taken a while for those unrelenting women to release their first album since their inception in 2013, but the final result is grandiose, vibrant and absolutely honest and fresh.

The quintet doesn’t waste a single second and begin their feast of extreme and melodic sounds in Wake Up, led by the razor-edge, heavy-as-hell riffs by Aleksandra and Tijana while Selena smashes her drum set with tons of rage and power, followed by Uprising, bringing forward thrashing lyrics growled by the talented she-wolf Sanja (“Do you see the fire that burns in our eyes / Give us the truth, stop feeding us with your lies / Time is for persecution / No more this mass confusion!”) supported by the Arch Enemy-inspired sounds form her bandmates in an awesome fusion of harmony and violence. And a dense and imposing ambience will put you to bang your head nonstop in Oppression, a Melodic Death Metal tune infused with the more visceral elements from Thrash and Death Metal with Sanja and Selena kicking some serious ass with their respective roars and thunderous beats, not to mention the beautiful groove brought forth by Biljana’s bass punches.

Once again showcasing the band’s unstoppable guitar duo firing their Michael Amott-inspired riffs and solos, the band brings forth Divine Retribution, with the additional vocals by guests Stefan Tomić and Milica Jovanov providing a phantasmagorical support to Sanja’s demonic screams, whereas in Living Dead People we’re treated to almost six minutes of ass-kicking Melodic Death Metal tailored for pulverizing our ears and minds with an insane amount of electricity and rebelliousness. Moreover, Biljana and Selena will shake the foundations of the earth with their rumbling bass and drums, making it impossible to stand still to such thrilling composition. And it’s time for more of their adrenaline-fueled metal music in the form of Savages, where Aleksandra and Tijana display all their skills and addiction to heavy music with their refined riffage, keeping the album at a humongous level of savagery for our vulgar delectation.

In Dead End we face grim, poetic lyrics darkly gnarled by Sanja (“I cannot hold it, I’ve had enough / Watching the world becoming rough / Headless beasts, stripped of the skin / New generation, new king!”), while Selena offers her heavy artillery on drums, being therefore perfect for cracking your neck headbanging, and less infernal and more melodious than the previous songs, Pandemonium has an obscure vibe that’s beautifully complemented by the stunning solos by Aleksandra, resulting in the epitome of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Back to their trademark berserk mode, the girls pulverize everything and everyone with their endless groove, aggressiveness and dexterity in Born Worthless, with Selena dictating the pace with her vicious beats while the guitars sound truly venomous and piercing. And last but not least, the title-track The War Is On will fuel the listener with the utmost depiction of the band’s hellish musicality, sounding and feeling bold, dense and austere from start to finish, with Sanja providing our ears a lesson in female harsh growls.

This precious gem of contemporary extreme music made in Serbia can be streamed in its entirety on Spotify, but as usual you should obviously grab a copy of the album from the Grom Records website, from Amazon or from Discogs to show those skillful Serbian women your true respect and appreciation for their music. In addition, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram to keep up to date with all things Nemesis, including their tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their crushing music and apocalyptic videos. I honestly hope Nemesis can continue to pave their path of destruction with their Melodic Death Metal for the following years and even decades, going against all odds and crushing all the barriers and hassles they might find on their way due to the fact they’re a pure underground band. And if they succeed in their quest for metal, I’m sure we metalheads will all have some awesome reasons to smile and bang our heads to the sound of their sensational creations, just like what we can find in one of the best underground albums of the year, the breathtaking The War Is On.

Best moments of the album: Uprising, Oppression, Living Dead People and The War Is On.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Grom Records

Track listing
1. Wake Up 3:07
2. Uprising 3:22
3. Oppression 3:28
4. Divine Retribution 3:55
5. Living Dead People 5:37
6. Savages 3:36
7. Dead End 3:51
8. Pandemonium 3:26
9. Born Worthless 3:52
10. The War Is On 4:06

Band members
Sanja Drča – vocals
Aleksandra Petrović – lead guitar
Tijana Milivojević – rhythm guitar
Biljana Sovilj – bass
Selena Simić – drums

Guest musicians
Stefan Tomić – additional vocals on “Divine Retribution”
Milica Jovanov – additional vocals on “Divine Retribution”

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 – Dead Tree Seeds / Push The Button (2020)

Simply slam into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow to the sound of the brand new album by these talented thrashing maniacs hailing from France.

Born from the ashes of a Thrash Metal band named Triakanthos in 2009 in Paris, France, an unstoppable thrashing beast known as Dead Tree Seeds is back in action after seven long years with their sophomore full-length album, entitled Push The Button, the follow-up to their 2013 release Seeds of Thrash. Inspired by the biggest names of the scene, from Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer to the most violent fringe of Kreator or Sepultura, as well as the groovy forays the likes of Testament and Pantera, Dead Tree Seeds go straight to the point in Push The Button, paying a vibrant and aggressive tribute to that classic Thrash Metal sound from the 80’s and 90’s while at the same time adding their own French twist to each one of the ten original tracks of the album. Currently comprised of Frank Vortex on vocals, Francois Odonnet and Aurelien Gonzalez on the guitars, Sidi Assila on bass and Alexandre Prudent on drums, Dead Tree Seeds are definitely back on track in their explosive new album, inviting us all to join them into the circle pit to the sound of their American Thrash Metal-fueled creations.

In the instrumental opening track Thrash Tales, Francois and Aurelien begin extracting serene, acoustic sounds form their guitars, gradually enhancing their rage and punch while accompanied by Alexandre’s fierce drums, setting the tone for Fangs Of The White Wolf, an old school Thrash Metal hymn perfect for crushing your skull into the pit, with Frank rabidly vociferating the song’s epic lyrics (“Fear, frost, blizzard in your eyes, welcome to the great white storm / Lost in travel, gone to the North, hailstones like a swarn / You’ve been followed by hungry eyes, the wild is craving for your flesh / Meet the Lord of the frozen wastelands, killer of a million wanderers”), whereas drinking form the same rebellious fountain as Anthrax, Exodus and Overkill, it’s time for the quintet to put the pedal to the metal in Thru God For Vengeance, where the band’s guitar duo fires their trademark shredding and solos while Frank keeps barking and growling like a true thrashing maniac.

No Time To Complain stats in a darker way before morphing into classic Thrash Metal led by Frank’s rabid roars while Sidi keeps smashing his bass mercilessly, maintaining the level of adrenaline in Push The Button extremely high, followed by the title-track Push The Button, a demented thrashing extravaganza where Alexandre sounds brutal and demolishing on drums, therefore providing his bandmates all they need to thrive, in special Frank with his raspy, punk-ish vocals, not to mention the sick guitar solos fired by Francois and Aureliene. Then strident guitar sounds permeate the air in the melodic bridge The Way To Eternity before tribal beats hammer our heads in the headbanging tune Abjection, blending the obscurity from Slayer with the inebriate sounds from the early years of Exodus while also showcasing a great balance between their razor-edged riffage, visceral growls and groovy background sounds.

And Alexandre doesn’t let their wrath and electricity go down with his vicious beats in Enemies Of Rome, where Frank’s deranged screams are effectively supported by the band’s old school backing vocals, all spiced up by their accelerated pace halfway through it for our total delight. Wailing Wall reminds me of both old school and contemporary Testament, which is obviously an amazing feature of the song, focusing on the precise and incendiary riffs by the band’s guitarists while Frank alternates between deeper growls and more desperate screams, paving the band’s path of destruction to the closing tune Shotdead, offering over seven minutes of savagery, rebelliousness and, above all, pure 80’s Thrash Metal spearheaded by Alexandre’s blast beats. Furthermore, their sharp riffs will pierce your ears in great fashion, and despite all breaks and atmospheric passages not sounding bad, they end up taking away some of the song’s ferocity in the end.

As I already mentioned in a few older reviews, if thrashing is your business (and business is good), you can start following Dead Tree Seeds on Facebook to know more about those talented French thrashers, and in order to show them your utmost support and admiration you can purchase a copy of Push The Button from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Rock Metal Market webstore in regular CD format, in vinyl format, as a special CD + vinyl bundle, or as a very special CD + vinyl + cassette bundle. It might have taken seven years for the seeds of thrash planted by Dead Tree Seeds to finally grow into their newborn spawn Push The Button, but the wait was definitely worth it for all fans of classic Bay Area Thrash, who know have another excellent reason for having a cold beer and slamming into the circle pit just the way we love doing since the beginning of the glorious decade known as the 80’s.

Best moments of the album: Fangs Of The White Wolf, Push The Button and Abjection.

Worst moments of the album: Shotdead.

Released in 2020 M.U.S.I.C. Records

Track listing
1. Thrash Tales (Instrumental) 1:42
2. Fangs Of The White Wolf 3:40
3. Thru God For Vengeance 3:52
4. No Time To Complain 6:27
5. Push The Button 4:12
6. The Way To Eternity (Instrumental) 2:03
7. Abjection 4:34
8. Enemies Of Rome 6:00
9. Wailing Wall 4:53
10. Shotdead 7:29

Band members
Frank Vortex – lead vocals
Francois Odonnet – guitar
Aurelien Gonzalez – guitar
Sidi Assila – bass
Alexandre Prudent – drums

Album Review – Ice War / Defender, Destroyer (2020)

Spelling a shift in its musical direction with a faster and more aggressive sound, this Canadian one-man army will rock your world with his classic fusion of Speed and Heavy Metal.

After the dissolution of his previous band Iron Dogs in 2015, the unstoppable Ottawa, Canada-based metaller Jo “Steel” Capitalicide (also known for his contribution to some amazing underground bands such as Aphrodite, Dexezon and Expunged) has been on a roll with his solo project entitled Ice War, releasing a stream of demos, EP’s and full-length albums at full force, culminating with the release of his fourth full-length opus now in 2020, the fulminating Defender, Destroyer. Featuring a beyond classic artwork by Canadian artist Didier Normand, the album is Jo’s personal tribute to all things Speed, Heavy and Thrash Metal with a Punk-ish, Hardcore twist, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Savage Grace, S.D.I., Razor and Iron Angel, among others, to the very first Helloween EP from 1985, spelling a shift in the project’s musical direction with a faster and more aggressive sound.

Jo begins slashing his stringed ax in great fashion in the opening track Power from Within, an ode to 80’s Thrash and Speed Metal infused with Punk Rock elements, while at the same time he pounds his drums nonstop and fires his raspy, rebellious vocals with a lot of power, followed by the thrashing title-track Defender, Destroyer, where Jo sounds even more berserk and mental, showcasing flammable riffs and rumbling bass punches while inviting us all to slam into the circle pit to the sound of his unstoppable beats. And Soldiers of Frost is even faster and more electrifying than its predecessors, with Jo giving a lesson in feeling and passion for old school metal music, resulting in the perfect composition for singing along with our talented lone wolf, not to mention how incendiary his riffs and solos are.

And there’s no sign of slowing down at all, as Jo keeps hammering our heads with his high-octane fusion of Thrash and Speed Metal with Hardcore elements in Rising from the Tomb, where it’s impressive how he sounds like a full-bodied band even being absolutely by himself. Then it’s time for a mid-tempo, headbanging metal extravaganza titled Mountains of Skulls, where Jo keeps vociferating like a beast and shredding his strings beautifully, reminding me of the early days of bands like Exodus, Metallica and Megadeth, whereas in Crucified in Fire he ventures through more traditional Heavy Metal lands, bringing forward high-pitched screams amidst his always thrilling riffage and blast beats, never letting the level of adrenaline go down and, therefore, inspiring us to keep raising our fists to his ass-kicking music. After such high-speed exhibit we’re treated to another round of classic thrashing sounds and tones in Demonoid, where Jo focuses on his strident riffs and the song’s old school lyrics, resulting in pure Speed Metal made in Canada tailored for metalheads who enjoy having a cold beer while crushing their skulls into the circle pit.

It looks like Jo is never tired of delivering tons of electricity and rebelliousness through his music, which is also the case in the Punk Rock-infused tune Skull and Crossbones, presenting a rumbling atmosphere due to his metallic bass punches and reverberating drums, and in Running Out of Time, with his vocals getting more and more enraged and inebriate, sounding as one of his biggest personal tributes to metal from the 80’s, bringing to our ears vicious riffs and solos while the rhythm remains as insane as possible thanks to his hellish blast beats. Finally, there’s nothing better to properly close an album then with a groovy and insurgent hymn the likes of Breakaway, where Jo generates a rowdy ambience with his unstoppable guitars, bass and drums, building the perfect atmosphere for delivering his classic roars, ending Defender, Destroyer in a very melodic and epic way for our vulgar delectation.

You can show your support to this talented one-man army hailing from Canada by following Ice War on Facebook and on Instagram, by listening to more of his classic metal music on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing your copy of Defender, Destroyer from the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page or from the Xtreem Music webstore sooner than you can say “Speed Metal”, keeping the unrelenting Jo “Steel” Capitalicide pumped up and ready to rock wherever he goes. Defender, Destroyer has no artificial elements, no special effects, nor any kind of innovation; it’s a straightforward, in-your-face album of classic Speed Metal deeply rooted in the 80’s, and that’s precisely what Jo needed to bring forth in his new album to truly shine. Well, let’s say that he more than succeeded in that, taking us all on a frantic and vibrant journey to the 80’s and, consequently, putting a huge smile on the faces of everyone who loves the music from that glorious decade from the bottom of their metal hearts.

Best moments of the album: Defender, Destroyer, Soldiers of Frost and Demonoid.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. Power from Within 3:00
2. Defender, Destroyer 3:31
3. Soldiers of Frost 4:09
4. Rising from the Tomb 4:02
5. Mountains of Skulls 4:23
6. Crucified in Fire 3:56
7. Demonoid 3:58
8. Skull and Crossbones 3:27
9. Running Out of Time 3:21
10. Breakaway 4:40

Band members
Jo “Steel” Capitalicide – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Lamb of God / Lamb of God (2020)

Re-energized and unrelenting, Richmond, Virginia’s own Groove Metal titans are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.

At long last, five years after the release of the excellent VII: Sturm und Drang, Richmond, Virginia-based Groove Metal titans Lamb of God are finally back with a brand new album self-titled Lamb of God, the band’s eighth studio effort, for our vulgar delectation. Produced by Josh Wilbur (Korn, Megadeth, Gojira, Trivium), the fact that their new effort is self-titled is a testament to the band’s pride and satisfaction with these songs and this period in their creativity, showcasing a true and healthy collaboration between frontman Randy Blythe, guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell and newcomer Art Cruz on drums, a re-energized and unrelenting lineup that’s more than ready to lay claim to the metal throne. “Putting only our name on it is a statement,” Mr. Randy Blythe said. “This is Lamb of God. Here and now,” expressing in words all the rage, groove and darkness found in each of the album’s ten original and extremely acid songs.

An eerie start evolves into a pounding Groove Metal feast in the opening track Memento Mori, where Willie and Mark and infernal with their riffs, inspiring us all to slam into the pit like true metal maniacs while Randy darkly vociferates the song’s psychological lyrics (“The hardest hour, the cruelest sign / I’m waking up from this wretched lie / I fight it the same, don’t waste this day / Wake up, wake up, wake up / Memento mori”), whereas in Checkmate we’re treated to more of their modern-day, austere words (“Watch the gears grind off their teeth / The screeching halt machine digging heels in disbelief / Two reactional identities, opposing policies / A bait and switch routine”), while Art brings forward all his fury and dexterity on drums, proving why he was chosen to take the band’s drumming duties. And in Gears, my favorite song of the entire album, Randy sounds inhumane with his enraged roars accompanied by Art’s pounding beats and the groovy and thunderous bass by John, resulting in a very intricate, multi-layered and thrilling aria from start to finish.

Speeding things up a notch, the quintet fires the neck-breaking, pulverizing tune Reality Bath, bringing an amazing shredding blasted by the band’s guitar duo while Randy alternates between his trademark growls and dark, eerie clean vocals, followed by New Colossal Hate, keeping the album at an insane level of wrath and violence. In other words, it’s another song perfect for jumping up and down with the band, with John and Art making the foundations of the earth tremble with their hellish kitchen, and they continue to crush our heads with the wicked and visceral Resurrection Man, one of the heaviest and most obscure of all tracks, with Art hammering his drums fiercely while Rady fires deep, vicious roars nonstop. Then featuring guest vocalist Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), the band delivers more of their hybrid of Groove and Thrash Metal in Poison Dream, with the sick riffage by Willie and Mark adding an extra kick to the overall result, not to mention the song’s vibrant and aggressive vibe.

The one and only Mr. Chuck Billy (Testament) lends his thunderous vocals to the high-octane Groove and Thrash Metal hurricane entitled Routes, sounding very melodic and at the same time as vile and caustic as possible, offering our avid ears their usual frantic beats, rabid screams and strident guitar solos, and you better get ready for another round of insanity and heaviness spearheaded by Randy and his demented screams in Bloodshot Eyes, also bringing some introspective moments while John and Art deliver endless groove through their unstoppable weapons. And last but not least, Lamb of God fire one last breath of first-class, demolishing metal music entitled On the Hook, with all of its crisp and thunderous riffs and bass jabs being nicely spiced up by Art’s rhythmic beats, uniting the heaviest elements from Thrash and Death Metal to the band’s core essence and, therefore, putting an amazingly heavy and explosive end to the album.

You can follow Lamb of God on Facebook and on Instagram (if you haven’t done so yet, of course) to stay up to date with everything that surrounds the band, including their tour dates, new songs and videos, news and other nice-to-know details, but I highly recommend you invest a small amount of your hard-earned money into their brand new album by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of it, as this is among the best metal albums of the year hands down. It might have taken a little longer than expected for Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen to released their new album due to all this horrifying and tedious COVID-19 pandemic, but at least the wait is over and, if you look on the bright side of life, all the wait was relatively worth it, making us insanely eager to see what Lamb of God had to offer us all in such obscure times. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint at all, with their self-titled installment certainly fueling their inner selves to keep composing and delivering more of their unique Groove Metal for many years to come. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for metal concerts to be back on, buy your tickets to see Lamb of God live, and witness them kicking some serious ass with both their classics and the new fulminating songs from their new album, just the way we like it.

Best moments of the album: Memento Mori, Gears, Reality Bath and Routes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Epic Records/Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Memento Mori 5:48
2. Checkmate 4:30
3. Gears 3:55
4. Reality Bath 4:32
5. New Colossal Hate 4:30
6. Resurrection Man 4:59
7. Poison Dream 4:57
8. Routes 3:04
9. Bloodshot Eyes 3:57
10. On the Hook 4:30

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

Guest musicians
Jamey Jasta – vocals on “Poison Dream”
Chuck Billy – vocals on “Routes”

Album Review – Zebadiah Crowe / Host Rider (2020)

An infernal British duo returns after almost eight excruciating years of silence with the utmost sound of violence, horror, darkness, filth and savagery in their brand new opus.

Almost eight years after the release of their sophomore album Omak K’aah, a beyond infernal British duo that goes by the curious name of Zebadiah Crowe returns from the pits of the underworld with more of their incendiary hybrid of Black, Thrash and Industrial Metal with Grindcore nuances in their brand new opus entitled Host Rider, a new tome of foulness and fractured sanity featuring seven new psalms of wild abandon and dangerous delirium. Formed in 2006 in London, UK, the duo comprised of The Horrid on vocals, bass and drum programming and Forrrthen on the guitars sounds sharper and more caustic than ever in their newborn spawn, bringing forth the sound of violent punk attitude, suffocating black horror, gothic darkness, mechanistic filth and the savagery of the most vicious outliers of thrash, being highly recommended for admirers of the distinguished terror blasted by renowned acts such as Venom, Ministry, Mantar and Babylon Whores, leaving you broken and destroying your senses without a single drop of mercy.

Imposing, epic sounds explode into a venomous fusion of Black and Industrial Metal in the amazing opening track Knucklebones, where the dirty, scorching riffs by Forrrthen provide The Horrid exactly what he needs to thrive with his wicked gnarls, whereas the thunderous and metallic bass by The Horrid takes the lead in the pulverizing A Tincture of Malic, a song that will undoubtedly inspire you to slam into the circle pit together with this talented unity from hell. Moreover, although the drums might be programmed, they actually sound very organic and evil, giving the whole album an extra touch of rawness. And there’s no time to breathe at all as they keep hammering our heads with their frantic and industrialized sounds in Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin, reminding me of some of the most vicious creations by Ministry, with The Horrid going full Black Metal with his vile screams while Forrrthen keeps slashing his stringed ax manically.

In The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief we’re treated to more of their blackened music, with the programmed drums working really well once again while the duo smashes their guitar and bass mercilessly, even bringing hints of Punk Rock to its core mechanized essence. Slightly groovier and more visceral than its predecessors, A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men is an underground lesson in savagery and dementia where Forrrthen’s riffage sounds bestial from start to finish, not to mention the trademark enraged roars by The Horrid, while in Godblind and Destitute they once again blend the heaviness of Black Metal with the violence of Thrash Metal and the metallic noises of industrial music, keeping the album’s electricity flowing at an insane speed. Lastly, closing such short but utterly extreme and malignant album we have Wormhavens Dance, where Zebadiah Crowe fire tons of rage and darkness through their razor-edged instruments, all spearheaded by The Horrid’s demonic screams and at the same time spiced up by futuristic background elements.

If you think you have what it takes to face Zebadiah Crowe and the anthems of horror and perversion found in their new album Host Rider, you should definitely follow them on Facebook to know more about this distinct entity hailing from the UK, including their tour dates and upcoming releases, but of course in order to show them you’re a creature of the dark just like The Horrid and Forrrthen themselves, you should purchase your copy of Host Rider from their own BandCamp page. No one knows if Zebadiah Crowe will take another long and excruciating eight years to bring to our ears a new sonic beast the likes of Host Rider, but for now let’s not worry about that, as we do have their new album to enjoy, letting their piercing, austere sounds penetrate deep inside our psyche, therefore dragging us to the world of horrors and dementia ruled by one of the most talented duos of the underground British scene.

Best moments of the album: Knucklebones, Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin and A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men.

Worst moments of the album: A Tincture of Malic.

Released in 2020 Lore Breaker Records

Track listing
1. Knucklebones 4:17
2. A Tincture of Malic 2:58
3. Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin 3:13
4. The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief 3:44
5. A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men 3:40
6. Godblind and Destitute 3:50
7. Wormhavens Dance 3:45

Band members
The Horrid – vocals, bass, drum programming
Forrrthen – guitars

Album Review – From Hell / Rats & Ravens (2020)

Are you ready for an excellent album of Horror Metal set in mid-13th Century Eastern Europe that weaves an eerie and epic tale of witchery?

Labeling themselves as a Horror Metal concept band in which each recording is intended to be its own horror story, San Francisco, California-based Thrash/Death Metal act From Hell are unleashing upon humanity the second chapter in their horror anthology since their inception in 2010, the dark and sinister Rats & Ravens, an album set in mid-13th Century Eastern Europe that weaves an eerie and epic tale of witchery throughout its ten original tracks. Produced by Greg Wilkinson (High on Fire, Necrot, Autopsy) and mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Faith No More, Annihilator, Cynic), Rats & Ravens is not only the natural follow-up to their 2014 effort Ascent From Hell, but an evolutionary step in the career of the quartet currently comprised of the band’s mastermind and founder Aleister Sinn (also known as George Anderson) on vocals and guitar, Steve Smyth also on the guitar, Stephen Paul Goodwin on bass and Wes Anderson on drums. “The story is about a witch who desires children of her own and steals them from the villages nearby,” Aleister explains. “When she kills them, she traps the ravens who come for their souls. She keeps the children on this earth, reanimates their corpses with rats and calls them ‘Lilium.’”

Right after a short and sinister intro entitled Dark Heart, From Hell come crushing in the modern-day Thrash Metal tune They Come At Night, with its dark lyrics being manically vociferated by Aleister (“Running through the forest as daylight starts to dim / Following close behind I hear them closing in / Demons of the forest. Spirits in the wind. / Whispering in the darkness. Whispering, ‘She comes again!’”) while Stephen brings the groove with his wicked bass, followed by Lilium, a song about the proclamations from the witch as to what she has done, where the band blasts a thunderous fusion of Thrash and Groove Metal the likes of Lamb of God and Overkill, and with Aleister and Steve being merciless with their venomous riffs. And after a brilliant drum intro by Wes it’s time to slam into the pit together with From Hell in the infernal The Witch, an old school thrashing extravaganza showcasing fulminating riffs and rumbling bass punches, or in other words, the whole package diehard fans of the genre are always searching for.

Venturing through darker and more demonic lands, From Hell brings to our ears a mid-tempo, spine-chilling tune titled Don’t Cry For Help, led by the rhythmic beats by Wes while the band’s guitar duo kicks some serious ass with their riffs and solos; whereas Three And Nine is a ritualistic Thrash and Groove Metal chant where the entire band makes the skies darker and the fires form the netherworld stronger and brighter with their refined techniques, therefore keeping the level of horror in the album extremely high, and with Wes once again smashing his drums in great fashion from start to finish. Then in Forest Of The Screaming Trees a sinister, uncanny background is gradually accompanied by acoustic guitars before all hell breaks loose, morphing into a movie score-inspired Thrash Metal beast where Aleister, Steve and Stephen are in absolute sync with their hellish strings.

In the excellent Room For One those four metallers deliver a classic thrashing riffage together with vicious, pounding beats, generating the perfect ambience for Aleister and his high-pitched, devilish roars and, as a result, living up to the legacy of bands like Exodus and Testament. It’s a true headbanger, I might say, and it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and blast our ears and skulls with the frantic Body Rats, a classic Thrash Metal composition for the masses where Aleister leads his horde with his inhumane screeches while Stephen and Wes keep the earth trembling with their respective weapons. Lastly, there’s nothing better than a straightforward, in-your-face thrashing tune with some good amount of shredding, soaring screams and intricate beats like Am I Dead to properly close the album, with Wes being once again insane on drums, providing his bandmates all they need to darken our hearts and souls in the album’s climatic finale.

If you’re a fan of horror movies and at the same time a longtime admirer of Thrash and Death Metal, I highly recommend you go grab a copy of Rats & Ravens either by clicking HERE (where you can also stream it in full on Spotify) or by visiting the Scourge Records webstore, and don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for an additional share of horror, blood and mystery by keeping up to date with their news, releases and tour dates. From Hell did a fantastic job uniting their scorching metal music with witchcraft in Rats & Ravens, an album that doesn’t get tiresome nor bland at any given moment; quite the contrary, this is how heavy music should always sound. Heavy, dark, intricate and, above all that, absolutely evil.

Best moments of the album: Lilium, The Witch and Room For One.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Scourge Records

Track listing
1. Dark Heart 0:54
2. They Come At Night 5:49
3. Lilium 4:16
4. The Witch 5:50
5. Don’t Cry For Help 5:43
6. Three And Nine 5:29
7. Forest Of The Screaming Trees 5:49
8. Room For One 5:38
9. Body Rats 8:42
10. Am I Dead 6:56

Band members
Aleister Sinn – vocals, lead guitar
Steve Smyth – lead guitar
Stephen Paul Goodwin – bass guitar
Wes Anderson – drums

Album Review – Abanoch / Buried And Left Behind EP (2020)

Dealing with the apocalyptic reality we live in, the debut EP by this Qatar-based quartet brings to our ears a classic fusion of Death, Black and Thrash Metal.

Blending traditional Death Metal with a myriad of sounds ranging from Thrash and Black Metal to classic Heavy Metal and even Progressive Rock since their inception in 2015, the up-and-coming Doha, Qatar-based hellraisers Abanoch are the sole Extreme Metal band hailing from their homeland playing original music, proudly carrying the flag of metal and defying all social and religious norms wherever they go. Now in 2020 the quartet comprised of Almarri on vocals and rhythm guitars, Sefiroth Ounane on lead guitars, Dahman Ouzzane on bass and Geoff Fontillas on drums aims at new heights with their debut EP Buried And Left Behind, an awesome warm-up for their first full-length opus which is currently scheduled to be released by the end of this year. Taking their name from ancient Middle-Eastern demonology, more specifically from a book titled The Sun of Major Knowledge (or The Sun Of Knowledge & Kindly Knowing) by Ahmed Bin Ali Al-Bonny, meaning a demon king who ruled the Sabbath, Abanoch deals with the apocalyptic and dark reality we live in in their new album, calling for Abanoch’s saving in all his glory to take us out of this reality.

The quartet begins hammering their instruments mercilessly in The Rise Of Abanoch, led by the electrifying riffs by Almarri and Sefiroth while Geoff smashes his drums in great Death Metal fashion, also presenting eerie, atmospheric passages and a huge amount of adrenaline and rage. Then another round of their solid and intricate Death Metal comes in the form of Five Spells, with Almarri’s demonic screeches and roars adding an extra touch of darkness to the music while Almarri himself together with Sefiroth and Dahman keep the ambience aggressive and sharp with their stringed weapons; whereas in End Of Times the band mixes the violence by bands such as Death and Cannibal Corpse with the obscurity and epicness of Cradle Of Filth, with its demonic growls, slashing riffage and nonstop blast beats turning it into an amazing option for slamming into the circle pit, all spiced up by a spot-on guitar solo by Sefiroth. The title-track Buried And Left Behind brings forward the most metallic and cutting riffs of the entire EP, resulting in a Death Metal feast tailored for admirers of the genre with Geoff dictating the pace with his rhythmic and berserk beats, and lastly, venturing through more thrashing and visceral lands, the band offers us all Treacherous Ways, highly inspired by 80’s Thrash and Speed Metal and showcasing an amazing job done by both Almari and Sefiroth with their scorching shredding, reminding me of the early days of Megadeth. In other words, get ready for over eight minutes of experimentations, epic riffs and fast beats, flowing smoothly until its climatic finale.

You can enjoy Buried And Left Behind in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to Abanoch you should follow them on Facebook and grab your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page. The metal scene in Qatar is making its baby steps, and with our support in spreading the word the guys from Abanoch hope they can encourage more bands to come out and create music in their homeland, elevating the importance of extreme music all over the country and, therefore, opening the minds of their young generation to the beauty of Death, Black and Thrash Metal. Just like in the aforementioned book, Abanoch are among us to save us all from our harsh reality with their first-class extreme music, with Buried And Left Behind representing only the first step in their promising career.

Best moments of the album: The Rise Of Abanoch and Treacherous Ways.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Rise Of Abanoch 4:20
2. Five Spells 3:29
3. End Of Times 4:33
4. Buried And Left Behind 4:17
5. Treacherous Ways 8:17

Band members
Almarri – vocals, rhythm guitars
Sefiroth Ounane – lead guitar
Dahman Ouzzane – bass
Geoff Fontillas – drums

Album Review – MĀRA / Self-Destruct. Survive. Thrive! EP (2020)

It’s time to self-destruct, survive and thrive together with the most dynamic, hardworking and promising unity of the Latvian metal scene.

If you’ve never heard of any metal bands hailing from the Republic of Latvia, a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, you should definitely take a shot at Riga-based Death, Thrash and Groove Metal unity MĀRA, who has just unleashed upon humanity the excellent EP entitled Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, the follow-up to their highly-acclaimed 2018 debut EP Therapy For An Empath. Formed in 2018, the group spearheaded by the ravishing Māra Lisenko together with her bandmates Denis Melnik on the guitars, Dmitry Lisenko on bass and Alberts Mednis on drums has been making a name for themselves since their inception, having already played in several summer festivals and toured all across Europe, also supporting renowned metal acts the likes of Sepultura, Krisiun and Satyricon. In their newborn spawn Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, the quartet offers more of their trademark metallic and industrialized sounds, with each one of the album’s songs bringing a true and self-experienced storyline, therefore inviting us all to find out more about the band and, above all, about ourselves, all embraced by the stylish artwork by Latvian artist Gundega Bārzdaine (Mad Meow Art).

As we face the intro titled Mīļā Māra, or “Dear Māra” in English (as if she was going to start writing a letter to herself), a shamanic and enfolding atmosphere sets the stage for Leaking Guilt, starting in a serene manner guided by gentle piano notes before morphing into visceral and futuristic Melodic Death Metal. Furthermore, Denis is infernal with his riffs, accompanied by the thunderous beats by Alberts and of course by Māra’s sharp fusion of clean vocals and demented roars; followed by Beauty Of Humanity, featuring the iconic Björn Strid (Soilwork) as a guest vocalist and presenting lyrics about the decay of mankind (“Brutal truth / Smashes your face against the wall / Cut enough wounds open / To feast on your blood / You’re dragged behind a car / Barely alive / Still asked to smile and hide all your pain”). It’s indeed an electrifying hybrid of Death and Groove Metal, with Dmitry extracting sheer savagery from his rumbling bass.

Then putting the pedal to the metal the quartet pierces our minds with their Arch Enemy-inspired extravaganza titled Religionipulation, by far my favorite track of the EP where Māra is on fire with her enraged growls and gnarls while Denis and Dmitry smash their stringed weapons in great fashion. And an eerie atmosphere ignites the dark and heavy Life Kills (Fear), bringing forward psychological words blasted by Māra (“Eternity passes / Me, blood and the ground / Thoughts of the existence / Rhetoric questions echo / Silence suppresses / Voices in the head scream / Begging for a help / Voice never follows”) while Dmitry adds endless groove and energy to the music with his bass punches. Lastly, featuring guest bassist Jeff Hughell from Six Feet Under, Don’t Look Back In Grief sounds perfect for breaking your neck headbanging, with Māra’s she-demon vocals being once again captivating from start to finish in their fast, furious and modern Death Metal feast.

MĀRA have already been rated #1 for “Brutal Female Fronted Metal” and have scored in the top 6 best EP releases of 2018 with their debut album, which also won the “Album of the Year” award at the 2018 Latvian Metal Music Awards, not to mention that their relentless frontwoman has topped many “Best Female Metal Vocalists” polls in the past couple of years as well as won the “Best Vocalist” award at that same 2018 ceremony. Having said that, it’s more than obvious that the band will continue to pave their path to stardom with Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, which you can stream in full on Spotify and purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, an album that might be short in duration with only 21 minutes of music, but that carries an endless amount of energy, feeling and groove spiced up by meaningful and clever lyrics. Hence, don’t forget to follow MĀRA on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, proving you have what it takes to self-destruct, survive and thrive together with Māra and the boys.

Best moments of the album: Religionipulation and Life Kills (Fear).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Intro (Mīļā Māra) 1:01
2. Leaking Guilt 3:44
3. Beauty Of Humanity 4:06
4. Religionipulation 3:44
5. Life Kills (Fear) 4:30
6. Don’t Look Back In Grief 4:14

Band members
Māra Lisenko – vocals
Denis Melnik – guitars
Dmitry Lisenko – bass
Alberts Mednis – drums

Guest musicians
Björn Strid – additional vocals on “Beauty Of Humanity”
Jeff Hughell – additional bass on “Don’t Look Back In Grief”
Artur Georgadze – synths and audio effects

Album Review – Theophagist / I Am Abyss (2020)

Symbolizing the reincarnation of a project long believed dead, this five-piece act from Luxembourg comes crushing with their debut opus of cannibalistic and visceral Death Metal.

Founded in 2015 in Luxembourg, the “Gibraltar of the North”, by a group of friends, with the band’s roots actually dating from the years of 2007 until 2009, the up-and-coming Death Metal five-piece act known as Theophagist symbols today the reincarnation of a project long believed dead. Picking up where they left off a decade ago, Theophagist bring the listener the finest Death Metal made in Luxembourg highly influenced by many great Thrash, Black and Death Metal artists, old and new alike, finally uncovering now in 2020 their first full-length album titled I Am Abyss after four long years in the making. Currently comprised of lead singer Sven Schosseler, guitarists Tiago Perdiz and Jo Conter, bassist Ben Schreiner and drummer Michel Conter, Theophagist seem to have finally reached their desired shape and form, with the music found in their newborn spawn perfectly depicting everything those talented Luxembourgians have to offer to the world of heavy music.

Simply hit play and a massive wall of infernal sounds spearheaded by Michel’s thunderous beats will invade your senses in Cannibal Preacher, showcasing disturbing words vociferated by Sven (“Your guilty flesh will be purified / Close your eyes, I purge the sins away / A rotten life served as tasteful bites / Pray to me, I purge the sins away / A hollowed scream, your first sacrifice / Bow to me, I purge your sins away”), and after such devastating start it’s time for a mid-tempo, heavy-as-hell extravaganza titled Burn That Witch, where Sven’s deep guttural is perfectly complemented by the scorching riffs by Tiago and Jo, inviting us all to break our necks headbanging in the name of witchcraft. And keeping the atmosphere dense, dark and infernal, the quintet blasts old school Death Metal infused with more melodic nuances in Recipe for Human Cake, with both Ben and Michel sounding truly menacing with their respective instruments. Moreover, I’m not going to write down the lyrics here, just search for them online and have an absolute blast with the band’s wicked and fun “recipe”.

A reverberating cello in the instrumental bridge Awakening The… sets the stage for the brutally heavy Terrors from the Deep, presenting classic, psychological Death Metal lyrics (“Your waves are endless, your foam, a dying star / A sea in millions, withering like a rotting scar / Terrors from the deep, lurking in me / Terrors from the deep, taking over me”) accompanied by a rumbling and intricate sound crafted by all band members, with Tiago’s and Jo’s furious, Black Metal-inspired riffs adding a touch of evil to the musicality, whereas in Epileptic Seizure the band ventures through more modernized and alternative lands, with the bass jabs by Ben sounding utterly metallic, therefore generating a bold background vibe perfect for Sven and his bestial roars. Then going absolutely berserk the band offers our avid ears the demolishing tune R.I.S.E., with the band’s guitar duo slashing their stringed axes in great fashion while their bandmates make sure the music remains as venomous and rebellious as it can be.

In Adeptus Astartes a Western-like intro quickly morphs into more of the band’s classic Death Metal, with Michel taking the lead with his pulverizing blast beats while Sven keeps on growling and giving the whole song a more aggressive punch, and the second to last blast of their straightforward Death Metal comes in the form of Agony of Christ Upon the Cross, following a similar pattern as its predecessor with its guitar, bass and drums smashing our skulls mercilessly. Finally, closing the album we face the ominous and old school Apocalypse (Redux), which was actually written during the first stages of the band over a decade ago, showcasing an amazing riffage blasted by Jo and Tiago boosting Sven’s harsh gnarls effectively, and ending in a climatic and grim manner as the true apocalypse draws near.

In case you’re curious to know how Death Metal made in Luxembourg sounds like, you can enjoy each and every track from I Am Abyss on YouTube and on Spotify, and if you like what you hear you can show your utmost support to those brave metallers by purchasing their debut opus from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon, or you can also click HERE to select the version of the album that better suits your needs. In addition, as it’s not everyday that we have the pleasure of facing a metal act from the tiny and beautiful Luxembourg, you should definitely follow the band on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, keeping updated with all things Theophagist and helping them spread the cannibalistic and visceral Death Metal to all four corner of the earth.

Best moments of the album: Cannibal Preacher, Terrors from the Deep and R.I.S.E.

Worst moments of the album: Adeptus Astartes.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Cannibal Preacher 4:07
2. Burn That Witch 3:25
3. Recipe for Human Cake 3:58
4. Awakening The… 2:37
5. Terrors from the Deep 6:24
6. Epileptic Seizure 4:02
7. R.I.S.E. 4:47
8. Adeptus Astartes 5:37
9. Agony of Christ Upon the Cross 4:50
10. Apocalypse (Redux) 3:20

Band members
Sven Schosseler – vocals
Tiago Perdiz – guitar, backing vocals
Jo Conter – guitar
Ben Schreiner – bass
Michel Conter – drums