Concert Review – Megadeth & Scorpions (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 09/22/2017)

The city of Toronto was beautifully taken by storm by two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock on the last day of the summer, and the result was absolutely fantastic.

OPENING ACT: Megadeth

When this Crazy World Tour 2017 was announced a few months ago, I instantly thought about how amazing it would be to witness on the same night two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock playing some of their biggest classics (as well as a few newer songs) at what’s in my humble opinion one of the best and most pleasant venues in the world to watch any type of concert (and I’ve been to several different ones in distinct parts of the world), the Torontonian amphitheater now known as Budweiser Stage. Well, it was even better than anyone could have expected, with the combination of two bands full of energy and excited to please the crowd, thousands of fans eager for some rockin’ music, and a weather that, for the very last day of summer, was beyond perfect, making the whole night truly memorable.

As the opening act, or maybe I should call them co-headliners as they’re not your average band, we had the absolute pleasure of enjoying American Thrash/Speed Metal heroes MEGADETH. Spearheaded by the unstoppable Mr. Dave Mustaine, Megadeth were still promoting their latest installment, the excellent Dystopia, released last year, but only one song from the album (its title-track) was played during the show. The setlist was pretty much a selection of their biggest hits with a huge focus on their 1990 masterpiece Rust In Piece, kicking off the concert with the blazing Hangar 18, and also featuring from that classic album the hits Take No Prisoners, Tornado of Souls (my favorite of the show) and, closing their performance, a song that needs no introduction, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.

And obviously “Megadave” and his henchmen David Ellefson, Kiko Loureiro (who proved to be the guitarist Mustaine needed by his side) and Dirk Verbeuren played every song to perfection, with the background screen complementing the music in a fun and exciting manner. For instance, the Nascar images used as a background for Mechanix and the official video for Dystopia (another fantastic moment of the show) played while the band executed the song were spot-on to keep the fans mesmerized and in total sync with the band. In addition, everyone at the venue singing the power ballad A Tout Le Monde guided by Mustaine was just beautiful, and the smile on his face after that moment was awesome. Now, as usual, let’s patiently wait until we can see such distinct band performing live again in our beautiful Toronto.

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Mechanix
Take No Prisoners
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Tornado of Souls
Dystopia
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead guitars, rhythm guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, backing vocals
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

SCORPIONS

If the venue wasn’t fully packed during Megadeth’s kick-ass performance, things changed considerably a few minutes before German Hard Rock institution SCORPIONS hit the stage with their flawless setlist, but before the concert started I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with other fans close to where I was (which was right in front of the stage), in special one father with his 13-year old son. The name of the boy is T Bone Bentley, he’s a very talented drummer who loves metal and rock, and you can check him smashing his drums on his official YouTube channel (together with his dad), playing songs like Iron Maiden’s all-time classic “Run to the Hills” and Judas Priest’s metal anthem “Breaking the Law”. When I see little fellas like T Bone and their passion for heavy music, my hope for a better future for mankind gets renovated, so don’t waste your time and go check his YouTube videos. They’re surely going to make your day a lot better.

Back to the concert, it was around 8:30pm when the iconic vocalist Klaus Meine, the flammable guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker, the talented bassist Paweł Mąciwoda and the one and only drummer Mikkey Dee hit the stage with an avalanche of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll hits, starting with a fantastic song from their 2015 album Return to Forever, the rockin’ Going Out With a Bang, already showing the night was going to be insanely fun. Let’s say that the first part of the show worked more like a “warm-up”, with the band jamming and rocking nonstop, generating a very good vibe and showing why they’re still alive and kicking after so many decades on the road. That first segment of the show had as its highlights the classic The Zoo, the fairly new but amazing We Built This House, and from their mini-acoustic set (including a weird but useful drum kit by Mikkey) I would say the touching ballad Send Me an Angel definitely stole the spotlight.

After that, Mr. Klaus Meine simply introduced one of the band’s biggest and most beautiful classics, Wind of Change, obviously hypnotizing all of us with the song’s renowned whistling, followed by another sensational new song titled Rock ‘n’ Roll Band and their awesome tribute to the most badass rocker that this world will ever see, Lemmy Kilmister, playing a cover version of Motörhead’s hit Overkill. Right after that, Mikkey offered us all an amazing drum solo (which put the little T Bone into a state of pure ecstasy), while the rest of the band was getting ready for a flawless Hard Rock attack comprised of nothing more, nothing less than Blackout, Big City Nights, No One Like You, Still Loving You (what a lovely moment of the show!) and Rock You Like a Hurricane. What else can you ask for, right?

Before this review of the show is over, I just wanted to mention two things that truly caught my attention during the concert, one in a very positive way, while the other was quite sad.  First, I was completely impressed with the fact that Mr. Rudolf Schenker is almost 70 years old and he keeps running frantically around the stage, screaming and interacting with the fans, and playing his guitar as if he was in his early 30’s. That was plain awesome, and definitely an inspiration for me and lots of other fans on how you can get old but remain young at heart, enjoying life until the end (just like Lemmy did, by the way). On the other hand, while Mr. Schenker was a role model to all of us, there were a few spoiled bi… I mean, girls, that thought that just because they’re (still) young and pretty they can do whatever they want, including being rude, disrespectful and annoying to anyone around them. One of them was so disrespectful to a guy next to me, elbowing him and pretending he was harassing her, to the point everyone close to that scene even stooped enjoying the concert for a few moments until security finally (and fortunately) took that stupid Barbie doll away. I hope when she gets old, and she will, she learns how to be a better person and how to respect other people. Well, Little T Bone is only 13 and he already knows how to behave in a rock and metal concert, as well as other kids that attended the show with their parents. It’s just a matter of learning what true respect is at home, right? And I hope that next time Scorpions take Toronto by storm with another faultless performance like that, that irksome girl is somewhere else, like at a Justin Bieber concert. Let the real bands for the real fans, lady.

Setlist
Intro
Going Out With a Bang
Make It Real
The Zoo
Coast to Coast
Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train
We Built This House
Delicate Dance (with Ingo Powitzer)
Always Somewhere / Eye of the Storm / Send Me an Angel
Wind of Change
Rock ‘n’ Roll Band
Overkill (Motörhead cover)
Drum Solo
Blackout
Big City Nights

Encore:
No One Like You
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane

Band members
Klaus Meine – lead vocals
Matthias Jabs – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars
Rudolf Schenker – rhythm guitars, lead guitars, backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass guitar
Mikkey Dee – drums

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Album Review – Helslave / Divination EP (2017)

Prepare yourself for a grim and murky fusion of old school and modern Swedish-inspired Death Metal by five Italian troopers in their path of destruction and killing.

Formed in 2009 by guitarist Jari, Italian Death Metal act Helslave is a Rome-based band taking its influences from the 90’s Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal Swedish scene, adding their personal twist to generate a mix of old and modern school metal music. After releasing a self-titled demo in 2010, followed by the EP Ethereal Decay in 2013 and their first full-length album An Endless Path in 2015, the band started playing shows all over Italy and Europe, sharing the stage with acts such as Grave, Asphyx, Havok, Hideous Divinity and Destroyer 666, also appearing at Metaldays in 2014, keeping themselves busy and always charged up to continue their path of destruction wherever they go.

In the beginning of the year, Helslave entered the studio to record a brand new EP titled Divination, comprised of four brand new tracks leaning towards darker and heavier sounds, playing their already traditional Swedish-inspired Death Metal in the vein of Grave, Entombed and Desultor, all embraced by the devilish artwork designed by Misanthropic Art. Prepare yourself for grim and murky old school Death Metal, the kind of stuff that doesn’t rely on triggered blast beats, light-in-the-loafers warbling, or anything but the crudest building blocks to construct its killing art. Hence, although Divination lasts for only around 16 minutes, that’s more than enough for Helslave to crush your spine mercilessly.

In the opening track, beautifully titled Summoning The Eternal Eclipse, an ominous intro morphs into sheer devastation by Jari and his henchmen, with drummer Francesco Comerci dictating the song’s demented rhythm in a solid display of Swedish Death Metal. In addition, newcomer Diego Laino and his Unleashed-inspired vocals keep the song’s ferocity at an extremely high level, perfect for declaiming the song’s menacing lyrics (“Silence falls, it freezes all around / the arrival of divine / ancestral ritual summon
/ Blinding lights, no human eye can see
/ let the plague fall on the weak”). And there’s no time to breathe, as the band rises from the pits of hell with another brutal carnage named Lord Of Lies, presenting old school, visceral Death Metal with hints of other extreme genres such as Black and Thrash Metal to add more dynamism to the musicality. The guitar duo Jari and Lorenzo Fabiani are simply fantastic, blasting scorching, darkened riffs through their instruments, not to mention the intricate beats by Francesco in this ode to obscurity.

In The Spawn Of Astaroth, the band slows things down a bit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fire truly dismembering riffs and beats, with Diego growling like a beast while Francesco and bassist Luca Riccardelli maintain a dense ambience in the background. Moreover, the final guitar lines exhale pure Black Metal, not to mention the song’s insurgent lyrics (“The fate of a great battle / has to be faced / an indomitable army has to be defeated / We are the ones who walk the left hand path / As written in the blood of the prophecy / The only way to conquer this land”). And Desecration, their last spawn of vicious Death Metal, is fast, demonic and amazingly neck-breaking, again presenting traditional piercing riffs and solos by Jari and Lorenzo as well as the complex and vibrant drumming by Francesco, being highly recommended for fans of Unleashed and Obituary.

You can take a full listen at Divination on YouTube, and follow Helslave through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, ReverbNation and SoundCloud. And if you want to show your true support to high-end underground Death Metal, you can purchase the EP at Helslave’s BandCamp or Big Cartel, at the Black Market Metal’s Big Cartel, or at Discogs. The only “issue” with Divination is that it’s only 15 minutes long, but as aforementioned that doesn’t stop Helslave from shining and destroying with their unrelenting Death Metal, leaving us eager for more kick-ass extreme music by this hardworking Italian squad.

Best moments of the album: Summoning The Eternal Eclipse.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Black Market Metal

Track listing
1. Summoning The Eternal Eclipse 4:08
2. Lord Of Lies 3:32
3. The Spawn Of Astaroth 3:43
4. Desecration 4:35

Band members
Diego Laino – vocals
Jari – lead guitars
Lorenzo Fabiani – guitars
Luca Riccardelli – bass
Francesco Comerci – drums

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 – Droid / Terrestrial Mutations (2017)

An extraterrestrial three-pronged sonic organism has just landed in Canada, bringing new sounds of degradation and alienation to all admirers of the more technical and progressive versions of Thrash Metal.

In the city of Brampton, located in the peripheral suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, resides a three-pronged sonic organism known as Droid. Though conceived in 2012, it has been the amalgamation of years of shows, rehearsing and writing that has led to the fully realized aural representation of their efforts in their 2017 debut album, titled Terrestrial Mutations. And this Canadian Sci-Fi Thrash Metal entity is more than ready to present to fans of renowned acts such as Voivod, Megadeth, Annihilator and Anthrax, among many other bands known for blending aggressiveness and dexterity in a compelling way, an amazing alternative in the world of underground thrash.

Since their inception, Droid already released the demo Malfunction, in 2013, and an untitled promo in 2014, followed by the six-track EP Disconnected, in 2015, but it’s with Terrestrial Mutations that the power trio comprised of Jacob Montgomery on vocals and guitar, Chris Riley on bass and Sebastian Alcamo on drums reached a much higher level of speed and harmony, bringing new sounds of degradation and alienation to all admirers of the more technical and progressive versions of Thrash Metal. However, if you’re a fan of old school thrash, don’t think that they’ll sound too modern for your ears, as they always keep their sonority deeply inspired by the foundations of the genre.

For instance, the piercing guitar sounds by Jacob welcome the listener to the Sci-Fi world of Droid in the opening track Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows), where the band delivers old school Thrash Metal with Sebastian pounding his drums mercilessly throughout the entire song. In Suspended Animation, we face lots of groove flowing from the guitar by Jacob and the bass by Chris, bringing those “dancing and slamming” elements from the music by Suicidal Tendencies as well as lyrics that couldn’t sound more thrashier than this (“Cold saline injected / straight through the heart / drained of blood given / hours to restart”); whereas in Abandoned Celestial State we’re treated to a fast and groovy start with a Blues-ish vibe led by Sebastian with his beats, generating a fun and interesting ambience for Jacob to declaim the song’s lyrics in a rabid manner. In a nutshell, this excellent tune offers the listener a well-balanced mix of Thrash and Groove Metal, and just like a Sci-Fi movie it follows a “script”, ending in a dark and somewhat apocalyptic way.

The title-track Terrestrial Mutation brings forward almost 10 minutes of 80’s-inspired Thrash Metal, starting with a somber, eerie intro before Jacob comes ripping with his riffs until the musicality reaches a very melodic shape. However, the song loses its grip mainly due to its length, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of good stuff to enjoy such as the low-tuned metallic bass lines by Chris and the song’s more progressive pieces. Fortunately, a piano intro presents to the listener another harmonious and visceral creation by Droid, titled Pain Of Reincarnation, where Jacob, Chirs and Sebastian put all the potency of their instruments together to generate a truly exciting sounding, feeling like Thrash Metal with Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock elements, which turns it into one of the top moments of the album for sure. And in Temptations Of Terminal Progress the band fires an electrified feast of riffs, harsh and demented growls and pounding beats, also presenting interesting breaks and traditional thrashing lyrics (“The soothsayers learning / it’s best not to reveal what / he knew / the bones they are burning / for the means for the many / not the few”), morphing into a display of progressiveness mixed with elements from Blues and Jazz at times.

The rumbling bass lines by Chris and the fierce beats by Sebastian dictate the rhythm in the high-octane and electrifying tune Cosmic Debt, an old school Thrash Metal chant that will certainly ignite some good circle pits with highlights to the deranged vocals by Jacob à la Paul Baloff; followed by Excommunicated, a lot slower than its predecessors but still heavy and groovy, with Jacob delivering some cutting guitar riffs while Sebastian keeps smashing his drums effectively. The song never really takes off though, falling flat after a while, but at least the closing song, Mission Drift, with its over 10 minutes of music, showcases all the band’s passion for progressive and heavy sounds, with the bass punches by Chris sounding truly awesome. This is the perfect depiction of Progressive Thrash Metal, bringing intricate guitars and drums, and obviously keeping the stamina and complexity at a very high level until it fades into a somber, wicked conclusion.

The extraterrestrial thrashers from Droid can be better examined at their Facebook page, while Terrestrial Mutations can be purchased at their own BandCamp page, at the Nightbreaker Productions webshop, at the Hells Headbangers webshop, at the Temple of Mistery Records webshop, or at Discogs. As you can see, the music by Droid truly exists and is easy to find (as opposed to ETs), so if I were you I would support such promising power trio by buying their album, in order to ensure their future endeavors become a reality and keep their Sci-Fi soundings as thunderous as possible, piercing our metallic minds.

Best moments of the album: Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows), Abandoned Celestial State, Pain Of Reincarnation and Cosmic Debt.

Worst moments of the album: Terrestrial Mutation and Excommunicated.

Released in 2017 Nightbreaker Productions

Track listing
1. Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows) 4:58
2. Suspended Animation 3:26
3. Abandoned Celestial State 7:30
4. Terrestrial Mutation 9:56
5. Pain Of Reincarnation 6:36
6. Temptations Of Terminal Progress 8:00
7. Cosmic Debt 4:10
8. Excommunicated 6:45
9. Mission Drift 10:43

Band members
Jacob Montgomery – vocals, guitar
Chris Riley – bass
Sebastian Alcamo – drums

Concert Review – Blaze Bayley (The Rockpile, Toronto, ON, 08/19/2017)

A journey through the past, present and future in the career of the unstoppable Blaze Bayley in the form of first-class Heavy Metal for his diehard fans in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Cadillac Blood

I’ll never understand why people who call themselves diehard metalheads would miss a chance to attend a top-notch Heavy Metal concert like what we had this Saturday at the really nice venue The Rockpile, which despite being usually referred as located in Toronto, technically speaking it’s in Etobicoke, an administrative district and former city that makes up the western part of the city of Toronto, around 18km from downtown. The weather was perfect, the beer was nice and cold, the food was great and all prices were very, very reasonable (including the ticket price). And those so-called fans of heavy music keep complaining on Facebook, Twitter etc. that metal doesn’t have the proper support and all those shenanigans. How about instead of just typing, you get up from that couch, head to a place like The Rockpile and support underground metal?

If you do that, perhaps you’ll face an electrifying band like the young and restless thrashers from CADILLAC BLOOD, a completely independent act from Keswick, Ontario, located 70km north of Toronto. Blending elements from Thrash Metal, Punk Rock and Rock N’ Roll in their music, and being clearly inspired by bands such as Volbeat (by the way, the band’s name comes from Volbeat’s classic album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood if you haven’t noticed yet), Metallica, Motörhead and Anthrax, the quartet comprised of Luke Morrell on vocals, Tyler Morrell on guitar, Sean Murphy on bass and Dean Fraser on drums delivered an excellent warmup to the fans that were there for Blaze Bayley, being extremely professional and excited from start to finish, in special Luke who didn’t stop jumping and headbanging for a single second while singing at the same time. Unfortunately I don’t have their full setlist, but you can go to their BandCamp page and check out songs like Crow’s Nest and Devil’s Brew, both played by the band on Saturday.

Band members
Luke Morrell – vocals
Tyler Morrell – guitar
Sean Murphy – bass
Dean Fraser – drums

BLAZE BAYLEY

When it was time for the unstoppable BLAZE BAYLEY to hit the stage with his Endure and Survive World Tour 2017, at around 10:30pm, The Rockpile was not even half full, maybe due to lack of better promotion or because the pub was a bit far for fans who rely on public transportation to move around, but I think those are just excuses for our society’s growing laziness to do anything that’s not online. Blaze deserved a much bigger crowd (he even joked it was his fault, as he asked that only true metalheads attended his concert), as he’s been doing superior music being totally independent, with very little support from anyone but himself and his bandmates. His music is powerful and vibrant, his lyrics are poetic and meaningful, and his energy on stage is simply fantastic. What else do you need in a metal concert?

Anyway, the brave fans who were at The Rockpile had the absolute pleasure of witnessing an amazing performance by Blaze and his amazing band formed by the talented Chris Appleton on guitars and backing vocals, Karl Schramm on bass and backing vocals, and Martin McNee on drums, who are not only the guys who recorded the first two parts of the kick-ass Infinite Entanglement trilogy with Blaze, the 2016 album Infinite Entanglement and the 2017 follow-up Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II), but who are also three quarters of British Heavy Metal act Absolva, a great underground band highly recommended for lovers of old school metal music.

When Blaze was in Toronto for the last time, at the now defunct Hard Rock Café in 2014, he was supported by a Canadian Iron Maiden cover group named Maiden Quebec, and although they were a very good band, Blaze’s performance was somewhat hampered by their lack of chemistry. Fortunately for the fans at The Rockpile this Saturday, Blaze and the guys from Absolva were in perfect sync, a reflection of their years working together, delivering to the crowd a top-notch setlist encompassing the best of Blaze’s past, present, and even future (if you think of Infinite Entanglement as an evolving project), playing simply the best songs from Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden and his unparalleled solo career. From the very first notes of the inspiring Endure and Survive, to the speed and violence of Blood, Dark Energy 256 and Man on the Edge (see his intro video to this all-time classic HERE), and the epicness of The Clansman, their performance was flawless.

As I mentioned before, Blaze is a metal poet, and there was always a reason for a song to be inserted in his setlist, always bringing a powerful message to the fans who were singing along all lyrics with Blaze. For instance, his speech about how we all fail and how we all must stand up from our failures and fight our fears again and again in Fight Back, from his latest album, only shows how much he loves what he does and how much he’s passionate about Heavy Metal, as well as how he said us fans are his “home” in the emotional Calling You Home. Of course there was also room for lighter topics, like when he explained the origins of Wolfsbane and how we all would feel “sexier” after screaming the words “man hunt” during Wolfsbane’s biggest hit Man Hunt. By the way, the “duel” between Blaze and the rest of the band during this song was awesome, with Chris and Karl stealing the show with their refined techniques. Blaze made sure he acknowledged the undeniable talent of Chris not only as a guitarist, but also as a songwriter and producer, something we can easily see through his work with both Absolva and Blaze Bayley.

After the last song of the setlist, A Thousand Years (my favorite track from Infinite Entanglement), Blaze and the guys stayed at the venue for a free autograph and photo session with their fans, not charging a single penny as most band do nowadays with their “meet & greet experiences”, as a sign of his respect and admiration for us, supporters of independent music. All band members were very nice and courteous with everyone, talking about their tour across Canada and the US, their plans for the future and other topics. And all true metal fans who attended the concert on Saturday went back home with a huge smile on their faces, something that happens every single time you see a concert by the metal warrior Blaze Bayley. As simple as that.

Setlist
Endure and Survive
Escape Velocity
Futureal
Blood
Silicon Messiah
Fight Back
Virus
Calling You Home
Stare at the Sun
The Clansman
Man Hunt
Man on the Edge
Dark Energy 256
Lord of the Flies
A Thousand Years

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums

Album Review – Torture Squad / Far Beyond Existence (2017)

Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene, or they will mercilessly crush you with the pulverizing music from their sensational new album.

If there’s a band that beautifully epitomizes what old school underground Thrash and Death Metal are all about, that band has to be the ruthless Brazilian four-piece outfit Torture Squad who, since their inception in the distant year of 1990 in the city of São Paulo, a metropolis with almost 20 million people located in the southeast region of Brazil, has been fighting for heavy music and remained loyal to their foundations, even with all the adversities in a country where metal is far from being a popular genre. Carrying a powerful name inspired by the song “Death Squad”, by American thrash metallers Sacred Reich, and having already released seven studio albums, two live albums and three EP’s, it’s time for Torture Squad to attack humanity once again with another sensational blast of traditional extreme music, titled Far Beyond Existence, the eight full-length release in their solid and exciting career.

Featuring a somber and ominous artwork by Brazilian artist Rafael Tavarez (who has already provided his brilliant art to several other bands all over the world such as Dark Ministry, Vulture and Moonkult), Far Beyond Existence is the first full-length opus by Torture Squad to feature the she-wolf Mayara “Undead” Puertas as their lead singer, as well as Rene Simionato on guitars. As a matter of fact, although the talented Mayara and Rene already released last year an EP with Torture Squad, the excellent Return of Evil, it’s now with the band’s new full-bodied installment that they have all the room needed to showcase their refined abilities as musicians and their utmost passion for all things extreme. And they more than succeed in their mission as you’ll see when you start listening to this incendiary album of Brazilian Extreme Metal.

In the fantastic opening track Don’t Cross My Path, Rene presents his welcome card in the form of cutting, flammable riffs, while the band’s wardogs Amílcar on drums and Castor on bass are simply thunderous with their respective instruments. And what to say about Mayara? She’s a true unstoppable she-demon, kicking some serious ass with both her deeper guttural and her more strident screams. As the name of the song says, don’t dare to cross her path under any circumstances, unless that’s what you really want deep down inside, right? Continuing with their sonic destruction, sirens warn the listener a tempest of old school Thrash and Death Metal is about to come in No Fate, another boisterous creation by this Brazilian quartet that exhales heaviness and aggression, with Amílcar giving a lesson in drumming by being rhythmic, violent and groovy at the same time. And connecting instantly with where the previous song ended, Blood Sacrifice presents a serene and somewhat esoteric intro, suddenly exploding into belligerent Thrash Metal. Amílcar once again demolishes his drums in a fantastic way, while Mayara keeps barking, gnarling and screaming like a beast, resulting in one of my favorite songs of the album by far; followed by Steady Hands, a mid-tempo tune perfect for some intense headbanging intercalated with some faster and more furious parts, with Rene once again blasting a metallic feast of heavy and raw riffs, not to mention the great job done by Castor with his demonic bass punches enhancing the song’s heaviness to the limit.

The also superb Hate, featuring British vocalist Dave Ingram (Benediction, Bolt Thrower, Just Before Dawn) on guest vocals, is more ferocious than most of the previous songs, where the pounding drums by Amílcar are in perfect sync with Castor’s bass lines and Mayara’s grunts, and with the song’s ending being a thing of beauty tailored for smashing your skull into the circle pit. In Hero for the Ages, slashing riffs and accelerated beats generate a warlike atmosphere perfect for Mayara to attack us with her devilish guttural vocals. Furthermore, it’s truly impressive how all songs sound extremely imposing and heavy, and of course this one couldn’t be an exception to that, with Castor hitting us hard in the last part of the song with his bass guitar. The title-track Far Beyond Existence is a lesson in traditional Thrash Metal, sounding simply excellent for the band’s live concerts, showcasing a neck-breaking, galloping pace that will certainly stimulate the spawn of some intense mosh pits, all boosted by the amazing guitar solo by Rene amidst all the rumbling sounds emanating from bass and drums. And leaning towards a more obscure form of Death Metal, mainly due to the deep and enraged gnarls by Mayara and the old school riffs by Rene, Cursed by Disease keeps the album’s momentum going, with the special narration by Brazilian drummer Edu Lane (Nervochaos) and its old school lyrics (“A rotting corpse remains preserved / Receptacle of the spirit of a king / Sarcophagus was sealed with all his treasure / And on the walls the paintings bore a curse / Death will attack / With its trident / for those who disturb / The pharaoh”) spicing up the final result.

You Must Proclaim, featuring Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Luiz Louzada (Chemical Disaster, Predatory, Vulcano) as a guest vocalist (making a demonic duo with Mayara on vocals), begins with Castor punching his bass mercilessly, emanating a violent and metallic sound that grows in intensity together with all other instruments until it becomes a thrilling Thrash Metal onrush; whereas Just Got Paid,  their pulverizing version for a ZZ Top classic (which original version can be enjoyed HERE), sounds as groovy and hellish as it can be, led by the harsh vocals by guest vocalist Alex Camargo (Krisiun) and the exciting riffage by Rene. Moreover, Castor’s bass sounds once again insanely deafening, which obviously translates into sheer awesomeness. Before all is said and done, Castor and his potent bass kick off the instrumental extravaganza titled Torture in Progress, featuring Brazilian keyboardist Marcelo Schevano, with those bass wallops being the main ingredient during the song’s first part, always accompanied by Amílcar’s intricate beats. In addition, the Deep Purple-inspired keys by Marcelo bring a fresh taste to the overall musicality, culminating in almost 10 minutes of top-notch Brazilian metal. Then closing the album we have Unknown Abyss, a cinematic intro (or outro, depending on how you listen to it, as I’m not really sure why it was added as the last track of the digital version of the album) where Mayara “presents” herself to the fans of the band like a demonic entity rising from the underworld. Needless to say, it will sound fantastic as the intro to their live performances.

In a nutshell, when Mayara had the arduous mission a couple of years ago to replace Torture Squad’s longtime iconic vocalist Vitor Rodrigues, she already proved the world she was the right choice for the band, but in Far Beyond Existence her performance reached such a stunning level she has emphatically carved her name as the band’s undisputed voice (hopefully) for many years to come. If you want to know more about Torture Squad, simply go to their Facebook page for news and tour dates (if you’re in Brazil, don’t miss their Far Beyond Existence Tour 2017, which is just about to start on August 17), and to Spotify to listen to Far Beyond Existence in its entirety. You can also buy the album through the Secret Service Records’ webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon, and show all your support to high-end underground metal from Brazil, more specifically to one of the most respectful, hard-working and thrilling bands in the history of Brazilian heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Don’t Cross My Path, Blood Sacrifice, Hate and Far Beyond Existence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Secret Service Records

Track listing
1. Don’t Cross My Path 5:48
2. No Fate 6:35
3. Blood Sacrifice 7:38
4. Steady Hands 5:23
5. Hate (feat. Dave Ingram) 4:11
6. Hero for the Ages 5:42
7. Far Beyond Existence 6:44
8. Cursed by Disease (feat. Edu Lane) 5:02
9. You Must Proclaim (feat. Luiz Louzada) 5:06
10. Just Got Paid (ZZ Top cover) (feat. Alex Camargo) 4:11
11. Torture in Progress (Instrumental) (feat. Marcelo Schevano) 9:37
12. Unknown Abyss (Intro) 3:01

Band members
Mayara “Undead” Puertas – vocals
Rene Simionato – guitars
Castor – bass, backing vocals
Amílcar Christófaro – drums

Guest musicians
Dave Ingram – additional vocals on “Hate”
Edu Lane – narration on “Cursed by Desease”
Luiz Louzada – additional vocals on “You Must Proclaim”
Alex Camargo – vocals on “Just got Paid”
Marcelo Schevano – Hammond organ on “Torture in Progress”

Album Review – Body Count / Bloodlust (2017)

Controversy, acidity and hatred are just some of the main ingredients in one of the heaviest and most complete albums in the career of the bloodthirsty Ice-T, Ernie C and Co.

We as human beings all got a deranged sickness deeply rooted inside our minds, a will to kill for sport and for revenge, an inner desire to make the ones who disagree with us or who hurt us suffer in pain, and that’s exactly what the iconic Ice-T and his henchmen, collectively known as American Thrash/Groove Metal band Body Count, have to offer us in their new installment, the excellent Bloodlust. Since their inception in 1990 in Los Angeles, the band has been delivering a high quality hybrid of Groove Metal and Hip Hop, but in Bloodlust they managed to increase the heaviness of their compositions significantly, resulting in what can be considered their most metal album of all time.

Not only Bloodlust is the sixth studio album in their solid career, but the controversy, acidity and hatred flowing from each one of the album’s 11 tracks puts it almost side by side with their cult self-titled debut album, from 1992. That only shows how passionate Ice-T and the other are about heavy music, always playing it with a lot of energy, trying to send a clear message to their fans and showing the bitter truth of the lives of the less fortunate people in the United States and all over the world. Besides, when you have guest musicians the likes of Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Sepultura), you know the music will hit you in the face like an uncontrolled bulldozer.

Loud sirens and the more-than-special guest Mr. Dave Mustaine himself declare martial law, before Body Count begin delivering sheer heaviness, chaos and groove in the opening track, the awesome Civil War, with Ice-T having a fantastic performance with his hostile rap-like vocals, resulting in one of their darkest compositions to date; and keep banging your head to the always boisterous riffs by Ernie C and Juan of the Dead while Ill Will smashes his drums mercilessly in this Groove Metal anthem The Ski Mask Way. Needless to say, the song’s lyrics are as aggressive as hell (“I’m in your rear view, when you leave the club / How cold could I be, you look like food to me / All on instagram, showin’ that cash off / What you really hope, is I don’t take this mask off don’t make me punish you don’t want to hurt your wife / Come up off that watch, it ain’t worth your life / I gotta crew of wolves, life has no meaning / We roll late night and hunt human beings”). Slowing the pace down a bit and increasing the groove considerably, This Is Why We Ride is a song where Ice-T is nicely supported by the excellent job done by Vincent Price on bass and Ill Will on drums, not to mention that the sounds of the shots and the sirens of the cops together with the insane heaviness blasted by the band will crack your neck mercilessly.

If you’re already feeling that pain in your neck after such intense headbanging music, All Love Is Lost will terminate it for good. Featuring the unparalleled growls by guest Max Cavalera, the vocals in this song burst with acidity while the instrumental pieces are a work of anger. Moreover, Ernie C and Juan sound like two serial killers slitting throats with their bestial riffs. Then the band offers us a fantastic version of two all-time classics by Slayer, Raining In Blood / Postmortem 2017, with Ice-T kicking ass on “Raining Blood” while Vincent Price takes care of the vocal duties on “Postmortem”. Furthermore, the intro to the song is already a lot of fun, with Ice-T explaining the origins of Body Count saying he wanted to have a Heavy Metal and Hip-Hop band by blending the music by Black Sabbath, Suicidal Tendencies and, of course, Slayer. God, Please Believe Me works as a poetic bridge by Ice-T and his crew to the fulminating Walk With Me…, one of my favorite songs of the album where guest singer Randy Blythe vociferates like a beast, while Ill Will sounds insane on drums and Ice-T is just as rabid as Randy. This is a flawless hybrid of Thrash, Groove and Rap Metal, showcasing even hints of Death Metal, perfect for stage diving, mosh pitting and sick headbanging due to its beyond brutal rhythm.

Here I Go Again, a re-recording of a demo track from Ice T’s Return of the Real sessions, brings a somber ambience with Ice-T delivering some darker-than-usual vocals, with its instrumental being pretty solid which results in an effective support to the craziness flowing from the song’s lyrics and the demented screams in the background. Then we have the controversial No Lives Matter, another high-end explosion of Groove Metal by Body Count which blends their heavy music with an austere discussion about the issues surrounding the “Black Lives Matter” initiative. Put differently, it’s an extremely politicized tune with insane bass lines by Vincent and a great performance by Sean E Sean with his samplers, paving the track for the title-track Bloodlust, a song about our attraction for death and brutality, about the inner desire of mankind for killing, portraying it as a sickness inside our hearts and minds. While Ernie C and Juan fire fierce and melodious riffs, Ill Will continues his technical and groovy attack on drums, showing how amazing this song will sound when played live.

And if you think Ice-T and his henchmen would give you a break from all their sonic havoc, they come crushing one last time with the best song of the album as their closing act, the flammable Black Hoodie, an amalgamation of their past, present and future where poetry and violence are powerfully united (“Got on a black hoodie, its hood up on my head / I didn’t have a gun so why am I dead / You didn’t have to shoot me and that’s a known fact / And now I’m laying face down with bullets in my back”), with all instruments exhaling metallic and belligerent sounds while Ice-T keeps rapping nonstop.

It deosn’t matter if you are a metalhead that’s not very fond of rap or a rapper that doesn’t get too excited to the sound of a heavy riff, when you have an album like Bloodlust (which by the way you can find in different bundles at the Control Industry webstore) on your hands it’s almost mandatory that you start banging your head to Body Count, acknowledging they are indeed the biggest exponent in the history of Rap Metal and one of the most fun acts from the 90’s that’s still alive and kicking without sounding Jurassic. And I’m pretty sure the counting of bodies done by Ice-T, Ernie C and Co. is far from being over.

Best moments of the album: Civil War, Walk With Me…, Bloodlust and Black Hoodie.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Century Media

Track listing   
1. Civil War (feat. Dave Mustaine) 4:23
2. The Ski Mask Way 3:36
3. This Is Why We Ride 5:26
4. All Love Is Lost (feat. Max Cavalera) 3:36
5. Raining In Blood / Postmortem 2017 (Slayer cover) 4:31
6. God, Please Believe Me 1:23
7. Walk With Me… (feat. Randy Blythe) 3:07
8. Here I Go Again 3:32
9. No Lives Matter 4:23
10. Bloodlust 3:34
11. Black Hoodie 3:29

Band members
Ice-T – vocals
Ernie C – lead guitar, backing vocals
Juan of the Dead – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Vincent Price – bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Postmortem”
Ill Will – drums
Sean E Sean – sampler, backing vocals
Little Ice – backing vocals

Guest musicians
Dave Mustaine – spoken word and lead guitar on “Civil War”
Max Cavalera – additional vocals on “All Love Is Lost”
Randy Blythe – additional vocals on “Walk With Me…”

Album Review – Eruption / Cloaks of Oblivion (2017)

Slam into the pit to the sound of the brand new album by five Slovenian thrash metallers who have always kept fast, guitar-based and infectiously melodic metal as their mission statement.

Formed in late 2004, Eruption are a Thrash Metal band from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Throughout the years, the band has always kept fast, guitar-based, and infectiously melodic metal as their mission statement, culminating in the releases of Lifeless Paradise in 2009 and Tenses Collide in 2012. These two full-lengths, accompanied by the 2014 EP Live Transmissions, saw the band explore classic machine-gun thrash riffing accompanied by the soaring melodic vocals and sci-fi musings of vocalist Klemen Kalin. The energetic blend of influences allowed the band to present its music in a dynamic, furious show that saw Eruption share the stage with names such as Nuclear Assault and D.R.I, perform on the main stage of festivals such as MetalDays and Underwall, as well as garner excellent live responses from Serbia to Germany.

Now in 2017 those Slovenian metallers return with their third full-length effort, titled Cloaks of Oblivion, aiming at expanding their musical range to include a darker edge the likes of Sanctuary, Helstar and Vicious Rumors, all the while never abandoning their original recipe for aggressive, precision-crafted Bay Area Thrash à la Forbidden and Testament. Displaying a kick-ass disquieting cover artwork by Romanian artist Alex Boca, the dynamic and electrifying Cloaks of Oblivion will certainly help Eruption reach new heights, which also means we can rest assured old school Trash Metal will keep shaking the foundations of our society for many years to come. In addition to that, just like other Slovenian bands such as Hellcats and ShadowIcon, Eruption are also helping carry the flag of their charming country everywhere they go, showing the world that although Slovenia is small in size, there’s an endless amount of hot heavy music flowing through its veins.

Many heavy bands like to provide us their version of a “calm before the storm”, like Eruption in the serene and melancholic intro Pharos, before sheer Thrash Metal hits us in Sanity Ascend, where guitarists Andrej Cuk and Grega Kamenšek begin their shredding attack while lead singer Klemen Kalin sounds like a thrashier version of Ripper Owens with hints of Joey Belladonna, nicely declaiming the song’s thoughtful lyrics (“Battling with the river of dreams / I’m lost in thought / Drowning in an intellectual stream / My mind adrift / The current carries me down to the sea of lunacy / By the waves of madness engulfed I can’t breathe / My lifeline’s been cut, no pharos in sight / I plunge into the darkness of my reflection”). In the title-track Cloaks of Oblivion a beautiful acoustic intro suddenly explodes into top-notch modern Thrash Metal, becoming a mid-tempo dark composition that reminds me of the great Forbidden. Once again, Klemen steals the spotlight with his vocal lines, with the gorgeous bassist Nika Krmelj and the talented drummer Ivan Cepanec bringing tons of groove to the overall musicality.

In Drones, the band puts the pedal to the metal in an ode to old school Bay Area Thrash, featuring slashing guitar riffs, spot-on backing vocals and infinite electricity. Hence, if they play this kick-ass tune live and you don’t crush your skull into the pit, I feel really sorry for your poor soul. Anyway, Reborn into Demise displays an imposing sonority crafted by Eruption bringing more flammable Thrash Metal for our avid ears, sounding like two songs in one due to the accelerated speed of its second half, and with the metallic bass by Nika together with the cutting sound of guitars by Andrej and Grega being beyond awesome. And the band has more devastating thrashing sounds to offer in the thrilling and very technical The Yearning, led by the band’s frantic guitar duo while Klemen keeps firing his demonic high-pitched screams.

A soulful solo ignites the obscure tune This Barren Existence, showcasing great lyrics (“Petrified I lost my speech / I can’t see my eyes are painted / Ruled by a voice that does not speak / I fear my mind is growing weak / Feel my spirit suffocating / The chords just keep coordinating”) despite the music itself never really taking off and going on for too long. The second to last thrashing hurricane engendered by Eruption, titled Seven Archons, brings more of their badass attitude and epic sonority featuring guest vocalist Simon Jovanović, with Ivan and Nika continuing to rumble in the background, therefore providing Klemen the exact ambience needed for his potent voice. Lastly we have The Prophet, which carries an old school name that matches perfectly with its  heavy, dark and straightforward sonority. Furthermore, its slashing riffs and headbanging rhythm are undoubtedly its main ingredients, with the music also exhaling epicness thanks to the poetic performance by Klemen on vocals.

You can take a nice shot at Cloaks of Oblivion in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify, as well as follow Eruption on Facebook and purchase the album at their BandCamp page, at the Xtreem Music’s BandCamp or webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. And may the force of old school Thrash Metal be with the Slovenian people forever and ever, thanks to the amazing music by Eruption.

Best moments of the album: Sanity Ascend, Drones and The Yearning.

Worst moments of the album: This Barren Existence.

Released in 2017 Xtreem Music

Track listing 
1. Pharos 1:25
2. Sanity Ascend 4:45
3. Cloaks of Oblivion 6:03
4. Drones 5:13
5. Reborn into Demise 6:14
6. The Yearning 5:23
7. This Barren Existence 6:00
8. Seven Archons 5:47
9. The Prophet 7:35

Band members
Klemen Kalin – vocals
Andrej Cuk – guitars
Grega Kamenšek – guitars
Nika Krmelj – bass
Ivan Cepanec – drums

Guest musicians
Simon Jovanović – additional vocals on “Seven Archons”
Anže Železnik, David Orehar, Matic Babič & Andrej Čuk – gang vocals

Album Review – Mutank / W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. EP (2017)

They have a lot of thrashing songs that have abbreviated titles, and they kick some serious ass with their old school music and hardcore attitude.

They have a lot of thrashing songs that have abbreviated titles on their menu, and all those songs will certainly put you to slam into the circle pit with their endless electricity and catchy melodies. I’m talking about Canadian Crossover/Trash Metal act Mutank, who have just released a new EP titled W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. (which according to the band means “We Have Alotta Thrash Songs That Have Abbreviated Titles”). Displaying a kick-ass old school cover art by Andrei Bouzikov (Holycide, Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch), W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. is not just a set of five amazing Crossover Thrash songs, but it’s also a follow-up to the band’s 2014 debut album M.E.C.H. METAL, which carved Mutank’s name in the Montreal Thrash scene and led them to play at Wacken Open Air that same year, as well as a taste of what’s to come as the band will have a full-length album to follow the EP later this year.

Inspired by Megadeth, Overkill, Iron Maiden, Municipal Waste, Mike Patton and the golden age of Thrash Metal, this Montreal-based quartet describes their sound as a “T-Rex skateboarding down a volcano”, which is exactly what you’ll find in W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. “Our upcoming EP W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. sort of started as a joke. I just thought it would be funny to force an acronym for ‘what’s that?’ and I came up with ‘We Have Alottta Thrash Songs That Have Abbreviate Titles’. From there we came up with the concept of an EP with a bunch of forced acronym titles. The EP itself was written somewhat conceptually with the individual songs being very short thrash songs that come together to make one longer progressive thrash track, which harkens back to the title since we don’t even know what it is! We have a ton of new material in the works as well, people can expect new stuff sooner rather than later!”

In the opening track, titled  L.I.F.E. (“Lament Infinity, Forlorn Eternity”), we’re treated to the sharp, thrilling guitar riffs and solos by Costa Skoulikas and Lee Whiskey in one minute of old school Thrash Metal, warming up the listener for I.D.I.O.T. (“I’ll Do It Over Tomorrow”), with its sick lyrics being nicely declaimed by lead singer and bassist Stephen Reynolds (“My brain’s a backed-up toilet / Can’t function cuz’ somebody soiled it / The posterior of prosperity / Thoughts too inbred to decongest / They’re unrelated so it can’t be incest / As I plunge into depravity”), whose rumbling bass also adds an extra kick to the song. Slam into the pit, have a beer with your buddies or simply bang your head nonstop to this uncompromised and electrified tune, before Mutank brings forth more shredding and thunderous bass lines for our avid ears in the faster and more hardcore mosh pit-generator P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S. (“Price Of Progress: Ugly Little Organisms Undermining Society”). This awesome composition sounds like the Thrash Metal played by Anthrax with Mutank’s own touch, turning it into the best track of the EP in my opinion.

F.O.G. (“Frailty Of Genius”) can be summarized as a minute and a half of pure madness led by the groovy beast by drummer Ahmed Daas and the inebriate vocals by Stephen, who once again sings the song’s old school demented lyrics with all his strength (“I walk around saying “It’s too late” / I know it ain’t / I guess that’s why I hold my breath under the water / ’til I come back up and drown in air”). And D.E.A.T.H. (“Divine Evaluation Awaits Thee Human”), the longest of all tracks, is also the one with the highest amount of complexity, showcasing thrashing guitars and a badass attitude, with Stephen and Ahmed sounding simply bestial with their bass and drums, respectively.

In ten minutes, Mutank slam more than several bands in their entire careers, and that says a lot about the overall quality of the music found in W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. You can get to know more about Mutank and their wicked acronyms and abbreviations at their Facebook page, listen to their high-voltage music on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and purchase W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. through their BandCamp page. I was trying to come up with a fun abbreviation to conclude this review, but you know what? Leave those to Mutank, as they definitely know how to condense words and, more important than that, amazing music into their short but extremely fun compositions.

Best moments of the album: I.D.I.O.T. and P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Boonsdale Records

Track listing
1. L.I.F.E. (Instrumental) 1:01
2. I.D.I.O.T. 2:06
3. P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S. 1:40
4. F.O.G. 1:33
5. D.E.A.T.H. 3:50

Band members
Stephen Reynolds – vocals, bass
Costa Skoulikas – guitar
Lee Whiskey – guitar
Ahmed Daas – drums

Album Review – Hammerdrone / Dark Harvest (2017)

Mixing up intense aggression, a dark atmosphere and elegant melodies, this Canadian quintet brings forth a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization known as the Dark Harvest Commando.

Formed back in 2010 in the city of Calgary, known as the center of Canada’s oil industry, Melodic Death Metal act Hammerdrone mixes up intense aggression, a dark atmosphere and elegant melodies to deliver songs that are both epic and catchy, being highly recommended for admirers of the musical creations by bands such as Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquility and early Soilwork. After receiving an enthusiastic response from the metal press in countries across the world with the release of their debut EP A Demon Rising in 2012 and the full-length Clone of Europa in 2014, this Canadian quintet returns with their second full-length installment, entitled Dark Harvest, a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization the Dark Harvest Commando.

The Dark Harvest Commando of the Scottish Citizen Army was a militant group which in 1981 demanded that the British government decontaminate Gruinard Island, a site which had been used for anthrax weapon testing during World War II, by distributing potentially anthrax-laden soil on the mainland. Enfolded by a menacing artwork by Brazilian artist Caio Caldas of CadiesArt (DragonForce, Raven Lord, Soulspell), Dark Harvest has all the elements needed to effectively portray the ominous actions of such terrorist organization, including demented vocals, blazing riffs and frantic drumming, therefore enhancing the impact of the music (and also of the story being told) on the listener.

The atmospheric intro Echoes prepares the listener for the carnivorous but very melodic Karakoram, with its lyrics explain “who” the savage mountain Karakoram is (“I am the slate of lost emotion, I am the face of blank despair / That which crushes your spirit and body / In this cold and rarified air.”). Not only the lyrics are meaningful, but the amazing job done by both Rick Cardellini and Curtis Beardy on guitars provides lead singer Graham Harris the exact ambience needed for his deep guttural vocals to thrive. In Ancestral Weight, which begins with a soulful solo by Rick while drummer Vince Cardellini blasts pure heaviness through his beats (sounding like a machine gun), we’re treated to modern and versatile Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth.

The title-track Dark Harvest takes you to the secret lair of the Dark Harvest Commando, with the band’s Melodic Death Metal presenting a warlike vibe. The overall violence emanating from their riffs and drums is insanely high, while Graham works as the “leader” of such vile terrorist organization with his deranged growls. And continuing his momentum, Graham canalizes the size and strength of a bison on his deep vocals in the excellent Black Bison, boosting the song’s hostile lyrics even more (“I see my God as he floods the plains of destiny / With the bile of intent. / I see my God and his hooves are stained with mortal men, / Malice hangs in the fog of his breath. / No lunar eclipse is half this dark – / It crushes your will and seeps into your heart.”). Showcasing elements from Thrash Metal, in special in its drums, this full-bodied, menacing and powerful composition is tailored for admirers of the heaviest form of Melodic Death Metal, being perfect for cracking your spine headbanging; whereas in The Wasting Throne, another pounding tune by Hammerdrone, both guitars dictate the rhythm together with the lowering bass by Teran Wyer, resulting in a robust song where all spaces are filled with heavy sounds and melodic touches, while its second part offers more of the band’s neck-breaking metal music.

After the album’s intro, Harvest The Void is the first (and only) serene moment you’ll find in Dark Harvest, working as a gentle bridge to the deep and melodic Collapse Of Reality, with highlights to the dynamic guitars by Rick and Curtis and the intricate beats by Vince, while Graham keeps growling like a beast. It’s a good quality tune despite going on for too long, losing a bit of its punch after a while. However, in the last of all tracks, titled Lost In An Instant, the whole band is fuckin’ roaring, with Graham and his bandmates delivering high-end Melodic Death Metal through their beautiful guitar solos, solid beats and endless stamina.

You can listen to Dark Harvest in its entirety HERE, and also show your support to Hammerdrone (and consequently to independent metal in general) by grabbing your copy of this excellent concept album at their BandCamp page. Hammerdone, who can be found on Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, not only bring us metalheads high-end underground heavy music made in Canada, as melodic and catchy as it can be, but they also tell a sinister and noteworthy story in Dark Harvest that will show you that many (if not all) terrorist attacks do not come out of nowhere, but that they’re always connected to classified actions taken by all governments worldwide. We obviously do not condone any of those actions and reactions by governments or terrorist groups, but it’s clear that when metal bands like Hammedrone are inspired by such controversial topics, the final result is always amazing musically speaking.

Best moments of the album: Ancestral Weight, Black Bison and The Wasting Throne.

Worst moments of the album: Collapse Of Reality.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Echoes (Intro) 1:09
2. Karakoram 4:37
3. Ancestral Weight 3:51
4. Dark Harvest 6:17
5. Black Bison 7:48
6. The Wasting Throne 6:07
7. Harvest The Void 3:32
8. Collapse Of Reality 5:34
9. Lost In An Instant 5:35

Band members
Graham Harris – vocals
Rick Cardellini – lead guitars
Curtis Beardy – rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Teran Wyer – bass, vocals
Vince Cardellini – drums