Album Review – Iced Earth / Horror Show (2001)

Are you looking for the ultimate Heavy Metal soundtrack to spice up your Halloween party? Mr. Jon Schaffer and his henchmen can definitely help you with that.

IcedEarth-HorrorShowTampa, Florida-based Power/Thrash Metal veterans Iced Earth might be one of the most underrated bands in the history of heavy music, and I believe they’re not bigger or more famous due to Mr. Jon Schaffer’s fickle temper, which has resulted in countless (and unstable) lineup changes in the history of the band, lowering any expectations a fan might have about their future. I personally don’t care that much about the mood of any musician, as long as this doesn’t negatively affect the overall quality of the music. Take a look at Dave Mustaine and Dani Filth, for example, and you’ll notice there are some changes in their music, but the core essence of Megadeth and Cradle of Filth is always there for the delight of their fans. Due to those constant changes you never know exactly what to expect from Iced Earth, as they sometimes deliver really bad material, but fortunately for all of us their 2001 album Horror Show showcases the Iced Earth we all want to listen to, sounding powerful, well-engendered and, above all, very creative and entertaining.

Horror Show is not just a traditional Heavy Metal album, also bringing a lot of the energy from Power Metal and some of the violence found in Thrash Metal, and that’s in my opinion the best “formula” Jon and his crew can offer us. Furthermore, it’s kind of  a concept album focused on different horror stories, making it even more interesting for Heavy Metal fans that also enjoy reading a frightful book or going to the movies to see a good dosage of monsters and blood. For instance, all songs on the album are based on classic horror films, from werewolves to vampires and mummies, and many of the lyrics are lifted directly from the source material, proving that when Jon doesn’t let his personal issues interfere in his music, the final result is always fantastic. Add to all that some incredibly talented musicians like Matt Barlow on vocals, Larry Tarnowski on the lead guitar, Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) on bass and Richard Christy (Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) on drums, and there you have the utmost recipe for awesomeness.

Wolf, the first track of the album inspired by The Wolf Man films, is an excellent heavy song to kick things off, showing why Jon is considered by many one of the best riff-makers in Heavy Metal. The speed of the song and its grinding riffs give it an amazing Thrash Metal touch, not to mention its chorus inspired by a poem that is recited in the 1941 film The Wolf Man, making any fan excited for the rest of the album. Then we have Damien, inspired by The Omen films, presenting outstanding lyrics that make a lot of sense if you have read the book or seen the movies like I’ve done (“When the Jews return to Zion / And a comet fills the sky / The Holy Roman Empire rises / And you and I must die”). As a matter of fact, the chorus was taken from the 1976 film The Omen, and the spoken section was adapted from a speech in its 1981 sequel, Omen III: The Final Conflict, just to give you a sense of how detailed this song is. Things get even better in Jack, inspired by the one and only Jack the Ripper, with Jon slashing our ears with his riffs in great “Ripper” fashion. Moreover, perhaps the funniest thing about this song is that Horror Show was the last studio album (apart from their album of cover songs called Tribute to the Gods, from 2002) Matt recorded before Tim “Ripper” Owens (The Ripper himself!) joined the band in 2003 and recorded The Glorious Burden in 2004, which is for me one of their best and most consistent albums of all.

The album continues with Ghost of Freedom, the only song that wasn’t inspired by any horror movie or character. It’s a very beautiful ballad and one of the top moments of the whole album, showing us a more “romantic” side of Jon and how good Matt’s voice can be even when he’s not screaming. The following three songs might not be masterpieces, but they surely keep the album at a high level of adrenaline and epicness. Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse) (inspired by The Mummy), Jekyll & Hyde (inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and Dragon’s Child (inspired by Creature from the Black Lagoon) not only have amazing concepts, but the music itself is very pleasant and cohesive, embracing us all and pulling us deeper into the world of horror created by the band throughout the entire album.

IcedEarth_Promo2001Frankenstein (“surprisingly” inspired by Frankenstein) is even better than those three tracks, raising your energy level and making you want to headbang like a crazy motherfucker, followed by the best song of Horror Show without a shadow of a doubt, the stunning Dracula (also “astoundingly” inspired by Dracula), a metal masterpiece that’s absolutely flawless from start to finish, presenting to the listener the duo Jon and Matt at the peak of their forms. This is an all-time fan favorite and a mandatory track in any of the band’s live setlists, also bringing to our avid ears ass-kicking lyrics (“Do you believe in love? / Do you believe in destiny? / True love may come only once in a thousand lifetimes…”). Lastly, we have The Phantom Opera Ghost, obviously inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, and despite all the additional elements and musicians it sounds too pretentious and doesn’t deliver what the fans are actually expecting.

The limited edition has a bonus disc with two totally opposite moments: an incredible cover for Iron Maiden’s Transylvania, where Jon does what he does best with his guitar; and a tedious interview with him that lasts for over an hour. I guess there’s a one-disc version of Horror Show that includes Transylvania as a regular track, so if I were you that’s the one I would buy. And finally, one thing that Iced Earth have always delivered are stunning album arts. The band’s own mascot, Set Abominae, might not be part of the compositions this time, but he certainly makes the front cover of Horror Show designed by Danny Miki and Travis Smith darkly captivating. In a nutshell, Horror Show, which makes the already distant year of 2001 look like it just happened yesterday, is a mandatory choice for that Heavy Metal Halloween party you’re planning with your friends (as well as a good source of inspiration for your costumes), or maybe you can just dress up as Jon Schaffer and walk around your neighborhood playing some of the tracks from Horror Show on your guitar, how about that? We could even call this new Halloween tradition as “Trick or Thrash”.

Best moments of the album: Wolf, Damien, Ghost of Freedom, Dracula and Transylvania.

Worst moments of the album: The Phantom Opera Ghost.

Released in 2001 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Wolf 5:20
2. Damien 9:12
3. Jack 4:14
4. Ghost of Freedom 5:12
5. Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse) 4:45
6. Jekyll & Hyde 4:39
7. Dragon’s Child 4:21
8. Frankenstein 3:50
9. Dracula 5:54
10. The Phantom Opera Ghost 8:41

Limited Edition Disc Two
11. Transylvania (Iron Maiden cover) 4:30
12. Interview with Jon Schaffer (conducted by Sumit Chandra) 69:27

Band members
Matt Barlow – vocals
Jon Schaffer – guitar
Larry Tarnowski – lead guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – bass
Richard Christy – drums

Guest musicians
Yunhui Percifield – lead vocals on “The Phantom Opera Ghost” as “Christine”, backing vocals
Jim Morris – guitar solo on “Ghost of Freedom”, keys, backing vocals
Howard Helm – keys (pipe organ) on “The Phantom Opera Ghost”
Richie Wilkison, Rafaela Farias & Sam King – backing vocals

Album Review – Thrashfire / Into the Armageddon (2019)

It’s time for total annihilation blasted by three metallers from “the land of four seasons” who are ready to thrash until their very last breath.

It’s not everyday that we’re able to face a band hailing from Turkey, but whenever that happens, and we have some good examples here on The Headbanging Moose with Inhuman Depravity, Diabolizer, Grotesque Ceremonium, Axxen Conners, Sülfür Ensemble and Engulfed, the music is always vibrant, fun and, above all, heavy-as-hell. That can also be said about an unrelenting Ankara-based trio that goes by the name of Thrashfire, unleashing upon humanity pure Speed and Thrash Metal since their inception back in 2006. After the release of their debut self-titled demo in 2007, followed by a promo EP titled World Domination in 2010, their first full-length album Thrash Burned The Hell in 2011 and the EP Vengeance Of Fire in 2015, it’s time for Thrashfire to violently thrash us all with their sophomore opus Into the Armageddon, undoubtedly their best work to date.

Comprised of vocalist and guitarist Burak Tavus, bassist Okan Özden and drummer Gürkan Güvendik, the band has been on an incendiary roll since day one, having already shared the stage with renowned acts like Destruction, Artillery, Rumble Militia and Venom Inc., as well as numerous shows within Turkey and a mini-tour in Germany in 2017, where they will return in November 2019 to play at the infamous True Thrash Fest Hamburg. Featuring a classic, gruesome and absolutely awesome artwork by Ozan Yildirim (Deadhouse Studio), Into the Armageddon is an intense and infernal thrashing extravaganza that will surely be the delight of lovers of bands like Kreator, Dark Angel, Slayer and Sodom, proving why Thrashfire are one of the biggest names in Turkish Thrash Metal, if not the biggest one of all.

The opening tune Pure Devastating Necromancy begins in full force with Burak screaming like a demented beast from the very first second, offering us all pulverizing, high-octane Thrash Metal where Gürkan sounds absolutely brutal on drums, generating a thunderous ambience together with Okan’s vile bass lines. In Katacomb (The Kingdom of Ressurrection), a quick and somber intro morphs into a frantic circle pit-catalyst led by Burak’s classic thrashing riffs and raspy vocals, feeling like a hybrid between old school Slayer with Death Angel and Exodus (which obviously means it’s infernally fantastic); and there’s no time to breathe as the power trio attacks our senses with hatred and electricity in Dybbukim, an enraged display of Thrash Metal where Burak bursts his lungs growling manically while Gürkan alternates between more rhythmic moments and sheer brutality on drums.

The trio keeps hammering and pounding our heads in Wisdom of Sacrilegious, with Burak’s shredding being amplified by Okan and Gürkan’s kitchen of hell, therefore resulting in nonstop action in the form of Turkish Thrash Metal for our avid ears. Then razor-edged riffs and bestial beats turn up the heat in Supreme Command, a classic Bay Area Thrash chant made in Turkey where Burak’s roars get more and more deranged as the music progresses, while Okan’s bass punches add an overdose of metal to the overall result. And if you thought the trio couldn’t sound more violent and visceral you better get ready for Through the Crimson Darkness, bringing forward slashing riffs, unstoppable beats and endless aggressiveness flowing from all instruments.

Then drinking from the same electrifying fountain as thrash masters Slayer and Exodus, the band offers us a breathtaking hymn of evil entitled Slaughtered By Hellgoats, where our beloved Turkish triumvirate is on absolute fire from start to finish; followed by Post Apocalyptic Holy Terror, a beautiful name for a “gentle” composition by Thrashfire. Burka sounds deeply infuriated and possessed with his vocals and riffs, not to mention Gürkan’s stone crushing drums, being highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a good old, violent mosh pit. High Heel in the Hell is a solid, straightforward tune also perfect for slamming into the pit, with Burak and Okan smashing their strings in great fashion, and after the music is over it’s time for the traditional “body count”. And lastly, we’re treated to over six minutes of old school thrash in the title-track Into the Armageddon, where the trio doesn’t stop delivering extreme aggression and fury. Moreover, Gürkan has a fantastic performance on drums, with the music getting more and more obscure and demonic as it approaches its demolishing and grim conclusion.

If you want to get caught in a mosh, you can enjoy Into the Armageddon in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase your copy of the album from the Xtreem Music’s BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from Apple Music or Amazon. Also, don’t forget to show your support to underground Turkish metal by following the band on Facebook, preparing yourself for total annihilation to the sound of the music crafted by three metallers from “the land of four seasons” who are ready to thrash until their very last breath.

Best moments of the album: Dybbukim, Supreme Command and Slaughtered By Hellgoats.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Xtreem Music

Track listing
1. Pure Devastating Necromancy 2:58
2. Katacomb (The Kingdom of Ressurrection) 5:03
3. Dybbukim 3:33
4. Wisdom of Sacrilegious 3:53
5. Supreme Command 5:49
6. Through the Crimson Darkness 3:17
7. Slaughtered By Hellgoats 3:06
8. Post Apocalyptic Holy Terror 5:11
9. High Heel in the Hell 3:19
10. Into the Armageddon 6:16

Band members
Burak Tavus – vocals, guitar
Okan Özden – bass
Gürkan Güvendik – drums

Album Review – Death Angel / Humanicide (2019)

A solid and entertaining album of old school Thrash Metal that marks the band’s return to the wolves alongside a survivalist pack mentality.

Since their return from a long hiatus in 2001, American Thrash Metal wolfpack Death Angel has been on a constant and solid roll, releasing a series of albums that, although might not be considered masterpieces, are extremely high-quality albums of good old, classic thrash. If their 2016 installment The Evil Divide is in my humble opinion their strongest album of this new phase of the band and one of their all-time best ones in terms of creativity, speed and rage, we can say their brand new opus Humanicide, the ninth studio album in their career, continues to pave their thrashing path and keeps the band more than just relevant in the current metal scene, therefore keeping the flames of old school Thrash Metal burning brighter than a thousand suns.

Recorded and mixed at Audio Hammer Studios in Sanford, Florida, with additional recording at Spiderville Studios in Oakland, California and mastered at Sterling Sound in Nashville, Tennessee, Humanicide is the band’s fourth album in a row to be produced by Jason Suecof (Charred Walls of the Damned, Crotchduster, Capharnaum) and also to have the same lineup comprised of vocalist Mark Osegueda, guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar, bassist Damien Sisson and drummer Will Carroll. In addition to that, Humanicide also marks Death Angel’s return to the wolves alongside a survivalist pack mentality, which is also reflected in the album artwork designed by renowned American artist Brent Elliott White (Megadeth, Trivium, 4ARM, Thy Art Is Murder, Amon Amarth), who already worked with Death Angel in their 2010 album Relentless Retribution and in their 2013 album The Dream Calls for Blood. Having said that, are you ready to join this unrelenting wolfpack in their quest for Thrash Metal?

An epic intro ignites the bold title-track Humanicide, with the strident guitars by both Rob and Ted morphing into a shredding feast while Mark’s vocals sound piercing and acid just the way we like it, thrashing our souls mercilessly for almost six minutes before we’re treated to Divine Defector, devastating form start to finish thanks to the pounding beats by Will, and albeit not a brilliant song it’s still classic Thrash Metal and a good option for slamming into the pit. And more melodic but utterly aggressive, Death Angel put the pedal to the metal in another feast of classic guitar lines, nonstop drums and raspy vociferations in Aggressor, with Rob and Ted doing a very good job with both their acoustic lines and electrified riffs.

I Came for Blood, my favorite of all songs, is a fast and infuriated explosion of old school thrash where its guitars couldn’t sound more thrilling, while Damien and Will bring sheer thunder with their respective instruments, not to mention the song’s aggressive, take-no-prisoners-like lyrics (“The bloody nose of victory / Fueled by seeds of hate / Make peace with my enemies? / No chance, not today / I’ve traveled through the unknown / That is where I thrive / You chose to say my name aloud / So I shall never die”). Featuring the smooth piano by Ukrainian guest musician Vika Yermolyeva, Immortal Behated is a pensive and beautiful metal tune, very detailed and full of layers and nuances, and also presenting crisp guitar solos, intricate drumming and endless darkness to heighten our senses, whereas in Alive and Screaming they get back to their trademark berserk mode, with Mark being on fire on vocals supported by his bandmates’ potent backing vocals, showcasing once again a demolishing job done by Will on drums. And The Pack, as Mark himself says, is a call to arms, sounding as if the band wants to gather all thrashing wolves to fight side by side with them, with Rob and Ted stealing the spotlight with their flammable riffage.

Children Of Bodom’s own Alexi Laiho delivers a vibrant guitar solo in Ghost of Me, another fast-paced, high-octane tune with Mark firing his trademark screams, bringing to our ears riffs and solos played at the speed of light, therefore inspiring us all to slam into the pit like maniacs. Next, it’s time for Jason Suecof to fire a guitar solo in Revelation Song, focusing on the melody rather than the speed and offering another blast of dark poetry by the band (“Watch for their people dawning / Watch for their evil task / A negative space revival / A negative faceless mask, hey / A child to be so wicked / Coming to steal your mind / Lost in a destructive space / Lost in a revolting time”), with Damien’s bass sounding truly ominous in the background. Of Rats and Men is a generic version of their own music, which despite Mark’s efforts to make it more engaging the music never really takes off, while The Day I Walked Away, some sort of a “bonus track” included in all versions of the album (and that’s why I don’t understand why it’s called a bonus track), is one more not-so-exciting song by the band with a bland sound and vibe, but still presenting some good moments such as the guitar solos blasted by Rob and Ted.

In summary, as already mentioned Humanicide (available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and on sale from several locations as you can see HERE) is far from being a masterpiece, but it’s still an above average album of old school thrash that definitely deserves a shot. To be honest with you, I would love to see Death Angel go back to the more diverse and crisp musicality found in The Evil Divide, but of course I wouldn’t complain at all if they decide to keep following the same formula and deliver to us another ten albums on the same vein as Humanicide in the coming years. And for a great band like Death Angel, who have always crafted first-class Thrash Metal since their beginnings, that’s more than enough to keep us happy.

Best moments of the album: Humanicide, I Came for Blood, Immortal Behated and The Pack.

Worst moments of the album: Of Rats and Men and The Day I Walked Away.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Humanicide 5:42
2. Divine Defector 3:24
3. Aggressor 5:11
4. I Came for Blood 3:12
5. Immortal Behated 6:08
6. Alive and Screaming 3:36
7. The Pack 3:33
8. Ghost of Me 4:34
9. Revelation Song 5:33
10. Of Rats and Men 4:08
11. The Day I Walked Away 3:29

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums

Guest musicians
Alexi Laiho – lead guitars on “Ghost of Me”
Jason Suecof – lead guitars on “Revelation Song”
Vika Yermolyeva – piano on “Immortal Behated”

Album Review – +MROME+ / Leech Ghetto (2019)

Back from the very depths of the underworld, this unrelenting Polish entity is ready to crush our senses once again with their unique and scorching fusion of Black and Death Metal.

Poland’s own Black and Death Metal entity +MROME+ is back from the very depths of the underworld once again to crush our senses with the unique and scorching music found in their brand new album, curiously entitled Leech Ghetto. Furthermore, as already expected (or not), the new opus by +MROME+, who are now a trio with the addition of bassist LV’s, joining lead singer and guitarist Key V and drummer P in their quest for heavy music, is completely different from their 2016 album Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell, yet still maintaining the band’s core essence and heaviness intact, working as a new start and keeping the band’s unpredictability as high as possible just the way we like it. Add to all that the wicked guest vocals by Ataman Tolovy (from Polish Experimental Black Metal band Túrin Turambar) in a couple of songs, and there you have an excellent DYI album highly recommended for anyone in pursuit of innovative and obscure metal music.

And Key V’s guitar ignites the engines of the opening track titled The Rogue, a mid-tempo, dark tune perfect for breaking your neck headbanging, also presenting a very welcome thrashing twist that makes it truly incendiary. Then ominous riffs and beats permeate the air in Born Old, which sounds like a hybrid of the music by Obituary, Exodus and Celtic Frost, just to name a few (and to show you how insane it sounds), with P being very precise with his drums, delivering aggressiveness and intricacy and, therefore, being tailored for fans of 80’s and 90’s heavy music; whereas in Anti-Ant Entante the band ventures through more rockin’ lands, with Key V’s raspy roars and razor-edged riffs piercing your soul mercilessly while LV’s and P keep the ambience thunderous with their respective bass and drums.

Led by LV’s metallic bass, The City of Opax offers our ears a significantly different start from all previous songs, sounding melancholic and grim and evolving into a very introspective tune, proving once again how wide the band’s range is when crafting their music. Featuring the aforementioned Ataman Tolovy on guest vocals, the stylish Coffin Nail is a feast of demented sounds as if Faith No More went Death or Thrash Metal, showcasing steady beats, wicked gnarls and a feeling of insanity as its main ingredients, and the trio continues to extract Stygian sounds form their instruments in Detroit Daze, especially LV’s with his groovy jabs, bringing elements from Progressive Metal to their already multi-layered music. Not only that, all of its changes and variations turn it into a very pleasant musical journey that will certainly smash your mind in the best way possible.

Ataman Tolovy returns in Twarz Niezawisła (“an independent face” from Polish), perhaps the most obscure and atmospheric of all songs, blending the thunder from Doom Metal with alternative and experimental music, followed by Bellies Grow, and let me tell you that the second to last blast of insanity by +MROME+ sounds and feels it was taken straight from the 80’s while having a futuristic touch at the same time, as if The Misfits and Motörhead had a bastard son. Do you understand now how multi-layered their music is? Anyway, Key V’s riffs dictate the rhythm in this distinguished tune, while P doesn’t stop pounding his drums for our total delight. And LV’s and his rumbling bass kick off the closing tune Primordial Soup, bringing forward slashing guitars, in-your-face, straightforward beats and aggressive vocals, flowing darkly until its venomous ending. Can this song be added to the official soundtrack of a Tarantino movie, please?

In a nutshell, +MROME+’s Leech Ghetto, which will really soon (aka later this week) be available on Spotify for a full listen and on the band’s own BandCamp page for purchase, continues to pave the band’s path of madness while sounding fresh and distinct from their previous releases as already mentioned, leaving us all disoriented and eager for more of their music in the coming years. We just can’t predict at all what Key V and his bandmates have in mind for their next album, but again that’s the beauty of their music and I truly hope they never change while they keep always changing (if that makes any sense to you).

Best moments of the album: The Rogue, Coffin Nail and Detroit Daze.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 NRA

Track listing
1. The Rogue 5:11
2. Born Old 4:22
3. Anti-Ant Entante 3:56
4. The City of Opax 4:30
5. Coffin Nail 3:47
6. Detroit Daze 3:31
7. Twarz Niezawisła 3:56
8. Bellies Grow 4:03
9. Primordial Soup 5:38

Band members
Key V – vocals, guitar
LV’s – bass
P – drums

Guest musician
Ataman Tolovy – guest vocals on “Coffin Nail” and “Twarz Niezawisła”

Album Review – Corrosive Sweden / Blood and Panic (2019)

An electrifying fusion of an old school feeling twisted and coated perfectly with a modern sound, hailing from the beautiful (and corrosive) Sweden.

Described as a hybrid between old school Thrash Metal and Melodic Death Metal, Swedish five-piece unity Corrosive Sweden has recently released a brand new opus entitled Blood and Panic, dealing with personal issues and changes faced by all band members. “The album has really been worked through and is a pure reflection of our personal lives. It is probably the best material we have done so far,” said the band in an interview, with the music found in Blood and Panic, recorded over a few years by the members themselves in their own studio Dark City Sounds, being a well-balanced mix of an old school feeling twisted and coated perfectly with a modern sound, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Metallica, In Flames and Soilwork, among others.

Formed in the distant year of 1997 in Hudiksvall, Sweden, the band comprised of Johan Bengtsson on vocals, Christer Ulander on the guitar and keyboards, Peter Forss also on the guitar, Magnus Nordin on bass and Daniel Hedin on drums has already released a number of recordings and played at several clubs and festival in Sweden through the years, bringing their Heavy Metal infused with a wide range of elements from classic Hard Rock to Punk Rock and Power Metal to the ears of metalheads from all over the world. Now with Blood and Panic the band continues to pave their metallic path, sounding unique but at the same time offering recognizable fragments from their musical influences in each of the nine songs from the album.

The riffs by Christer and Peter will pierce your skin until Daniel comes crushing with his beats in Fire from a Gun, a fusion of modern-day Heavy Metal with Groove Metal showcasing an amazing balance between clean vocals and harsh roars, followed by the title-track Blood and Panic, just as electrifying as the opening track. Both guitars are on absolute fire, providing Johan all he needs to vociferate manically in a hard-hitting, straightforward display of Melodic Death Metal by the quintet, also delivering some sick guitar solos to our avid ears. And it seems like they want to slash our faces in half with their vicious riffs in Speed, even more modern and melodic, and with its backing vocals providing a powerful support to Johan while Daniel pounds his drums just the way we like it in heavy music.

Venturing through more aggressive and darker lands, Christer and Peter kick some ass with their Iron Maiden-inspired riffs and solos in Angry Me, whereas Angel or a Beast sounds like a bastard hybrid of Pantera, Rob Zombie and Godsmack, which obviously translates into awesomeness. Once again the band’s dynamic guitar duo shreds their axes nonstop, extracting sheer rage and groove from their stringed weapons while Johan delivers one of his best vocal lines of the entire album; and bringing forward elements from more alternative styles of heavy music, Terrified as I Die showcases Magnus’ thunderous bass and Daniel’s hammering beats adding a lot of stamina to the overall result (despite not being as exciting as the rest of the album).

Dirtier-than-usual vocals and riffs are the main ingredients in Parasite, a great option for hitting the road or slamming into the mosh pit, as long as you don’t stop banging your head to their neck-breaking riffs and beats, of course. At the Top is another high-octane extravaganza by Corrosive Sweden, bringing forward a solid instrumental led by Daniel’s classic drums while Johan keeps screaming and shouting with a lot of energy and precision, before more rage and despair flow from Johan’s vocal lines in the closing tune Black Paint, with the music remaining absolutely heavy and groovy from start to finish, putting a vibrant ending to Blood and Panic.

After the album is over, just keep raising your horns for Corrosive Sweden as those guys deserve it for their hard work and deep passion for heavy music, and of course don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel. As mentioned in the beginning of the review, Blood and Panic, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify and on sale from several locations like Apple Music and Amazon, is a solid and thrilling amalgamation of styles and subgenres of heavy music, beautifully celebrating the band’s devotion to all things metal and showing the world once again why (corrosive) Sweden has always been one of the most important and prolific countries in the history of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Fire from a Gun, Angry Me and Angel or a Beast.

Worst moments of the album: Terrified as I Die.

Released in 2019 BMP Records Sweden

Track listing
1. Fire from a Gun 3:31
2. Blood and Panic 3:13
3. Speed 3:39
4. Angry Me 5:24
5. Angel or a Beast 3:40
6. Terrified as I Die 5:04
7. Parasite 4:21
8. At the Top 3:57
9. Black Paint 3:37

Band members
Johan Bengtsson – vocals
Christer Ulander – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Peter Forss – guitar, backing vocals
Magnus Nordin – bass
Daniel Hedin – drums

Album Review – Aphrodite / Lust and War (2019)

Bang your head to this uncompromising DIY tribute to the Greek gods, recommended for fans of that 80’s Speed Metal sound sparkled with heavy and punk influences.

Founded in the second half of 2018 in Ottawa, Canada’s capital located in the east of southern Ontario, Speed Metal power trio Aphrodite is the result of a collective effort between the creative minds of Canada’s own multi-instrumentalist Jo Steel (Ice War) and guitarist Yan Turbo (Colorsfade), and Chilean unrelenting vocalist Tanza Speed, a true metal nomad known for bands like Outline and Demona. Now in 2019, with the help from Heidi Stockdale, who developed the lyrical concept revolving around Greek Mythology, Aphrodite are unleashing upon us their debut full-length album entitled Lust and War, a DIY production recommended for fans of that 80’s Speed Metal sound sparkled with heavy and punk influences in the vein of Acid, Znöwhite, Agent Steel, S.D.I. and Vectom, among many others.

Jo and Yan’s frantic riffs and beats ignite the opening track Hades in the Night, before Tanza comes ripping with her old school-Japanese-inspired-punk-thrashing vocals, resulting in a fun, straightforward song perfect for enjoying a beer inside the pit, whereas in Pandora’s Box Unleashed the guitar duo keeps slashing their strings mercilessly, firing razor-edged riffs and solos inspired by classic Thrash Metal and Punk Rock, as well as rumbling, metallic bass punches. In other words, I can easily visualize them playing this at an underground, obscure rock pub. Then in Ares, God of War wicked guitars and frantic beats dictate the rhythm while its simple but effective lyrics tell the story of the one and only god of war (“Feeder of thieves / Master enslaver / World on its knees / Ransack the land, scepter in hand / Lord of greed, madness of man / Loathsome war leader / Lord of greed, madness of man / Loathsome war leader”), feeling like a North American version of the crushing music by Japanese masters Abigail but obviously with a more complex theme.

Aphrodite keep blasting their raw, dirty Speed Metal in Lightning Crashed, where Tanza seems slightly “inebriate” on vocals (or maybe that was the original plan, who knows) while Jo does a great job on drums once again, not to mention Yan’s piercing guitar solos. Slowing down their madness a bit, the trio offers the Megadeth-inspired tune Pentheselia, with Tanza delivering less strident and more tuneful vocals, and yet again presenting gripping guitar riffs and solos; followed by Gorgon Medusa, which sounds like a copy of one of the previous songs from the album, albeit not as thrilling neither as fast, but still bringing a good dosage of crudeness and rebelliousness to our ears. And Aphrodite, Queen of Lust, the song that carries the band’s name, is another punk-infused thrashing composition where the sharp sound of the guitars builds an interesting paradox with the song’s low-tuned bass lines.

Getting back to a more rockin’ sonority the trio offers us Orpheus Charms the Gods of Death, spiced up by another blast of interesting but never too complex lyrics (“Thracian Orpheus, blessed by the gods / None can resist enchanting song / His melody sways the mountains and trees / Melting the heart of the beast”), and let’s keep slamming into the pit with Thesus and the Minotaur, with the rhythmic beats and thunderous bass punches by Jo generating a dense background for Yan’s crisp solos. Their Rock N’ Roll party goes on in The Odyssey, where Tanza continues to fire her raspy, feminine vocals while Yan and Jo are ruthless with their cutting riffs and beats, before Gladiators (Gladiators), and I must say I have absolutely no idea why the song is called “Gladiators” twice nor if this is a cover song for a very old band called Gladiators, closes the album on an accelerated manner, with Tanza’s vocals walking hand in hand with the song’s main riff as if they were one.

Lust and War might not be a Speed Metal masterpiece (as a matter of fact, it’s not even close to that), but taking into account all the effort and limitations Jo, Yan and Tanza had during the production stages of the album we have to admit that in the end they did a pretty good job. Hence, don’t forget to show our support to Aphrodite by following them on Facebook, by listening to Lust and War in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course by purchasing the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page, from the  Xtreem Music webstore in CD or LP format, from Apple Music or from Amazon. As this is a DYI album, utterly uncompromising and free of any type of pressure, of course there are many flaws to be fixed and adjustments to be made, but after all is said and done I’m sure you’ll have a very good time listening to this 80’s Speed and Heavy Metal-inspired tribute to the Greek gods.

Best moments of the album: Hades in the Night, Ares, God of War and Orpheus Charms the Gods of Death.

Worst moments of the album: Gorgon Medusa.

Released in 2019 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. Hades in the Night 3:02
2. Pandora’s Box Unleashed 3:48
3. Ares, God of War 2:31
4. Lightning Crashed 3:21
5. Pentheselia 2:56
6. Gorgon Medusa 2:50
7. Aphrodite, Queen of Lust 3:22
8. Orpheus Charms the Gods of Death 3:10
9. Thesus and the Minotaur 3:26
10. The Odyssey 3:58
11. Gladiators (Gladiators) 3:52

Band members
Tanza Speed – vocals
Yan Turbo – lead guitar
Jo Steel – guitars, bass, drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Māra Lisenko

Label me insane… My madness is not my enemy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – He Who Seeks Vengeance / They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became (2019)

A high-octane fusion of classic Metalcore with Hardcore, Deathcore, Death and Thrash Metal made in Australia, inspired by the biggest names of the current rock and metal scene.

Highly inspired by some of the biggest names of the modern rock and metal scene such as As I Lay Dying, Of Mice & Men, Parkway Drive, Bring Me The Horizon, Thy Art Murder and Trivium, Australian Metalcore outfit He Who Seeks Vengeance is unleashing upon humanity their debut full-length album beautifully entitled They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became, blasting a high-octane fusion of classic Metalcore with Hardcore, Deathcore, Death and Thrash Metal for the masses. Formed in 2016 in Frankston, a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, the band comprised of lead singer Scott Masson, guitarist Kye Bradbury-Flint, bassist Joel Petry and drummer Adam Vousden sounds a lot more cohesive, polished and focused in their new album than in their 2017 debut EP The Kid’s Got Alligator Blood, proving the quartet is on the right path in their promising career and explaining why they’ve already become a reference in the underground scene in their homeland.

Distorted sounds and crushing beats invade our ears in Death Mountain before Scott begins roaring deeply for our total delight in a feast of fast, furious and vicious Metalcore infused with classic Death Metal elements, or in other words, an ass-kicking welcome card by the quartet. And keep banging your heads to the band’s demolishing sound in I Know You’re out There, Demon, where we’re able to enjoy the first stint of clean vocals of the album while Kye showcases his refined guitar skills, adding a lot of groove and electricity to their musicality; whereas Screw Feet presents a rumbling sonority led by Joel’s bass jabs and Adam’s vile beats. Furthermore, this is the type of modern metal music I enjoy a lot, being violent, melodic and progressive all at once, not to mention the incendiary riffs fired by Kye from start to finish. Slowing down and getting more obscure, Ghosts brings forward a solid instrumental that lacks the same energy and impact from the previous songs, despite the great job done by Scott with both his growls and clean vocals, followed by Nothing Lasts Forever, where an enraged intro explodes into a fusion of Metalcore with Groove Metal and Deathcore and with Joel’s thunderous bass powerfully complementing the song’s crisp, razor-edged guitar riffs.

Interminable displays a more melodic and less aggressive side of the band led by the metallic, low-tuned bass by Joel, while Scott declaims the song’s lyrics in a Punk-ish/Hardcore-inspired way, sounding perfect for fans of this less bestial side of Metalcore. Then the flammable guitar lines by Kye ignite the also groovy and rhythmic Money Is God, where Scott sounds truly deranged and insane and with Adam pounding his drums just the way we like it in modern-day metal, before the band blasts a rebellious circle pit-generator spearheaded by Adam and Kye titled Mark Me with an X, with both being armed to the teeth with their respective instruments. Needless to say, it should work really well if played live, with the deep guttural roars by Scott being the icing on the cake. In Strychnine the band sounds as modern and metallic as they can be, especially Adam with his crushing beats and fills, also showcasing the band’s trademark neck-breaking rhythm and pace in a solid display of what contemporary Metalcore truly means, while in 80-20, a song tailored for being played live at rock and metal festivals, we’re all invited to jump up and down with He Who Seeks Vengeance, presenting a blazing main riff that will rip your spinal cord out, unstoppable drums and endless stamina.

Once again bringing hints of classic Death Metal and even some Thrash Metal influences to their core sonority, the band offers us Shrapnel, alternating between groovier, more melodic moments and sheer insanity. Moreover, Scott doesn’t stop screaming and roaring, bursting his lungs with his deep guttural lines. Into the Shape of a Heart keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline (which by the way is kind of a tough job as we’re talking about fifteen songs in total), bringing to our ears a great riffage delivered by Kye while Joel continues to hammer his bass mercilessly, followed by Defeatist, offering the listener a more rumbling, dense sonority infused with Djent and Hardcore nuances while its guitar riffs are in total sync with the sound of drums, generating a vibrant atmosphere perfect for Scott’s sick vociferations. Lastly, closing the album we have two very distinct songs, starting with This Is My Day, which despite not being a bad song is slightly generic if compared to the rest of the album, albeit still presenting the band’s characteristic style and vibe and with Adam delivering another great performance on drums, while Blackwater is a very unique, dark and pensive ballad, not as devastating as their usual sound but, in the end, it works extremely well, closing the album on a somber note as if it is some sort of “aftermath”.

What are you waiting for to show your support to this talented four-piece act from Down Under? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became (available for a full listen on Spotify) by clicking HERE or from CD Baby. Those guys definitely want to put Australia on the map of contemporary Metalcore and Hardcore, and based on the high quality of the music found in their brand new album there’s no doubt they will succeed, which means we can expect to hear more from He Who Seeks Vengeance in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Death Mountain, Screw Feet, 80-20 and Shrapnel.

Worst moments of the album: Ghosts and This Is My Day.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Death Mountain 3:33
2. I Know You’re out There, Demon 4:08
3. Screw Feet 4:36
4. Ghosts 5:12
5. Nothing Lasts Forever 4:30
6. Interminable 5:43
7. Money Is God 3:30
8. Mark Me with an X 4:24
9. Strychnine 4:51
10. 80-20 4:40
11. Shrapnel 3:51
12. Into the Shape of a Heart 3:50
13. Defeatist 3:31
14. This Is My Day 4:04
15. Blackwater 4:27

Band members
Scott Masson – vocals
Kye Bradbury-Flint – guitar
Joel Petry – bass
Adam Vousden – drums

Album Review – Night Screamer / Dead of Night (2019)

Mixing 80’s horror movies, political lyrics and fast cars into their old school Heavy Metal blender, this London, UK-based unity will rock you like there’s no tomorrow with their debut full-length album.

Formed in 2013 in London, England, the birthplace of classic Heavy Metal, the unstoppable five-piece metal unity known as Night Screamer is ready to rock you like there’s no tomorrow with their mix of 80’s Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Thrash Metal in their debut full-length album Dead of Night. Comprised of lead singer Gadd, guitarists Calvin Lever and Jamie Carter, bassist Julia B Cadau (who’s by the way also part of an excellent Symphonic Metal band named Angel Nation) and drummer Kilian Noise, Night Screamer offer in Dead of Night all elements that made their debut EP’s Hit n’ Run (2014) and Vigilante (2015) so entertaining and a lot more, with every song painting a different picture while staying truthful to the household formula, mixing 80’s horror movies, political lyrics and fast cars into the band’s traditional metal blender. In other words, if you’re a diehard fan of the powerful and epic 80’s sound from the NWOBHM, Night Screamer are here, almost 40 years years later, to keep the flame of classic metal alive with Dead of Night.

An enfolding intro quickly becomes a feast of razor-edged riffs, rumbling bass lines and nonstop beats in the opening track Sacrifice, a traditional 80’s metal hymn tailored for lovers of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon led by Gadd’s piercing vocals, whereas the song that carries the name of the band, Night Screamer, is just as electrifying as its predecessor, with both Calvin and Jamie spitting fire from their guitars while Gadd powerfully screams the song’s catchy chorus and Kilian dictates the rhythm with his classic, steady beats. And there’s still a lot more, as in Blood On The Wall (F***ed It Up), a true headbanger perfect for cracking your neck in half, Julia and Kilian make the earth tremble with their bass punches and pounding drums, respectively, not to mention the straightforward, flammable solos by the band’s sharp guitar duo.

Then blazing guitars ignite the rockin’ tune Hit n’ Run, showcasing Hard Rock-inspired lyrics declaimed by Gadd (“Your love is speed / Your love is fire / Your love is more / Than I could ever desire / With black hair / And dagger eyes / You got your kicks / From bloody cries / HIT RUN! HIT RUN!”) and feeling like a hybrid of the early days of Judas Priest with the debauchery of Mötley Crüe. In March Of The Dead we’re treated to an epic instrumental intro with Julia bringing thunder to the music with her metallic bass, morphing into a mid-tempo song that leans towards the most classic form of Heavy Metal you can think of while also presenting faster and more melodic moments the likes of Helloween; and it’s time to dance together with Night Screamer in Party With The Devil, a fun and vibrant composition where the whole band adds tons of groove to the musicality as well as spot-on backing vocals, allowing Gadd to thrive with his high-pitches, raspy screams one more time.

Then in Paradise Lost, featuring an ominous intro with spoken words by Gadd, we face lyrics about a world that doesn’t exist (“When I was just a boy / I swore I’d run away / To find the paradise / We lost along the way / A place with no conditions / And free from binds that tie / You’d call this boy a dreamer / I’d call it all a big lie”), complemented by beautiful guitar solos and a dark aura that together enhance the song’s impact considerably. Rise Above is another rip-roaring, in-your-face metal attack by the quintet where Calvin and Jamie are on absolute fire, supported by Julia’s dense bass lines and once again mixing NWOBHM with classic German Power Metal, before Out Of My Mind ends the album on an utterly high note. Clearly inspired by the music blasted by their countrymen Judas Priest, this excellent metal hymn will leave you eager for more of the music by Night Screamer, with Gadd’s vocals being in perfect sync with the song’s slashing riffs for the total delight of admirers of the genre.

In case you’re ready to scream in the night together with Gadd, Calvin, Jamie, Julia and Kilian, all you have to do is follow them on their official Facebook page, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and of course purchase their debut full-length opus Dead of Night from their own BandCamp page and keep banging your head and raising your horns in the name of traditional Heavy Metal. In Dead of Night, Night Screamer do not try to be progressive, alternative, symphonic, atmospheric, nor any other of those shenanigans. All they want to do is play our good old Heavy Metal, and they do it extremely well throughout the over 43 minutes of first-class music found in their newborn spawn. This is what good old rock and metal is all about, with bands like Night Screamer proving once and for all that no matter how much the rest of the world tries to kill Heavy Metal, our most beloved type of music will never go away.

Best moments of the album: Night Screamer, Hit n’ Run and Rise Above.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Sacrifice 6:08
2. Night Screamer 3:59
3. Blood On The Wall (F***ed It Up) 4:24
4. Hit n’ Run 4:23
5. March Of The Dead 6:13
6. Party With The Devil 5:18
7. Paradise Lost 5:19
8. Rise Above 3:52
9. Out Of My Mind 4:13

Band members
Gadd – vocals
Calvin Lever – guitars
Jamie Carter – guitars
Julia B Cadau – bass
Kilian Noise – drums

Concert Review – Heavy Montréal 2019 Day 2 (Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC, 07/28/2019)

The fans at Heavy Montreal will always be thankful to the almighty Slayer for their final and utterly devastating concert in Quebec.

INTRODUCTION: Alive and Kicking 10 Years On

The 10th anniversary of Canada’s biggest and most important metal festival, our beloved Heavy Montreal, couldn’t have been celebrated in greater fashion than what metalheads from all over Canada and from several other countries were able to enjoy at the always beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau. Although this was just my second time at Heavy Montreal, not counting the two editions of Heavy T.O. in 2011 and 2012, I must say the overall organization this year was a lot better than in 2014 (check our reviews for both days of the 2014 edition HERE and HERE), with a better layout, better access and exit, better facilities, food trucks, washrooms and so on, which was reflected in the happiness and good vibes flowing from all fans that were literally burning under a merciless sun in a (finally) scorching hot Canadian summer. As I was only able to attend day 2 of the festival, I’m not going to talk about any of the Saturday attractions, so if you’re curious to know how that day was go check the festival’s official Facebook page. And if you’re a hungry metalhead visiting Montreal for Heavy Montreal next year or any other metal concert, I highly recommend Il Focolaio for a delicious pizza or calzone to recharge your batteries before slamming into the circle pits.

SKILLET

Let’s begin with the first band I saw on Sunday, American Christian Hard Rock act SKILLET, who began their fun but not-so-heavy performance at 4:05pm when the sun and the temperature were hotter than the fires of hell. John Cooper, Korey Cooper, Seth Morrison and Jen Ledger put on a pretty good concert during the 45 minutes they had, with songs like Legendary, Sick of It and Hero receiving a very warm feedback from the crowd. I honestly had no idea they were a Christian band, but who cares? They might not be as heavy as most attractions of the festival (or maybe they’re too heavy for less extreme festivals), but they play with a lot of passion and energy, and I guess everyone who was watching their performance noticed that and showed a lot of respect for the band. Not only John is a great frontman, but the two girls Korey (who’s John’s wife) and Jen kicked ass on the guitar, piano, drums and vocals, bringing an amazing feminine touch to the entire festival. In a nutshell, if a heavier-than-usual (but not too extreme) version of modern-day Rock N’ Roll is your cup of tea, I’m sure you’re going to have a very good time watching Skillet live.

GAMMA RAY

As soon as Skillet’s performance was over, it was time for German Power Metal masters GAMMA RAY to fill the airwaves of the festival with some true old school Heavy Metal, especially because the band comprised of the iconic vocalist and guitarist Kai Hansen, bassist Dirk Schlächter, guitarist Henjo Richter, drummer Michael Ehré and second (or first) vocalist Frank Beck was the only attraction of the entire festival who played that type of music. I’m a longtime fan of Mr. Hansen’s music and I was very happy I could witness them playing at Heavy Montreal instead of another Alternative Metal band, but I don’t think most of the attendees had the same reaction when the band hit the stage. I mean, there were still countless fans banging their heads and raising their fists to classics like Master of Confusion, Heavy Metal Universe and Send Me a Sign, but there was something missing to make the show memorable. And to be fair, I still don’t understand why the band needs Frank Beck; he’s a good vocalist, but he doesn’t bring any real value to Gamma Ray’s performance. His microphone was lower than Kai’s, he didn’t sing most of the songs, and the songs he did sing were just OK. I think putting that crazy dude that was all wet dancing samba (and several other rhythms) nonstop on the gray mud to dance on stage would have been a lot more fun than Frank’s performance, don’t you agree?

IN THIS MOMENT

There was no time to breathe as, the second Gamma Ray were over, we were all able to witness a fantastic and very theatrical performance by the stunning Maria Brink and her henchmen (and henchwomen), collectively known as American Alternative Metal/Metalcore band IN THIS MOMENT. The aforementioned Maria, who I dare to say looks and feels like an evil (and of course improved) version of Lady Gaga, together with Chris Howorth on lead guitar, Randy Weitzel on rhythm guitar, Travis Johnson on bass and Kent Diimmel on drums, plus the two sexy masked dancers who worked as some sort of “mirrors” to Maria, delivered a truly hypnotizing concert, with their music being a blend of the blasphemy and anti-religiousness of Marilyn Manson and Cradle of Filth with the insanity of Slipknot and Ghost. The final result was obviously fantastic, with my two favorite songs of their setlist being by far the demented Big Bad Wolf and the closing song Whore, where Maria’s dancers entered dressed up as characters from the excellent dystopian novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, holding sings with the words “SHAME” and “WHORE”. In the end, In This Moment kicked some serious ass without a shadow of a doubt, leaving all fans at Heavy Montreal extremely satisfied and eager for more of the music by metal’s favorite “whore” in a not-so-distant future.

HEAVY MANIA

When the next attraction from the Apocalypse Stage started, American stoner metallers Clutch, I went for a walk as I needed a break and some water. Terror and Demolition Hammer were on fire on the Forest and Garden stages, respectively, but I decided to watch the last wrestling show of the festival in the area called HEAVY MANIA, featuring wrestlers of the International Wrestling Syndicate like The Green Phantom, Sexxxy Eddy and Tabarnak De Team. The name of the fatal-four battle I was able to watch was “Le Cauchemar D’Oppenheimer”, and it was so fun I even missed the beginning of Slash’s concert. Well, it was definitely worth it, with Sexxxy Eddy winning the match amidst some trash talk and a few destroyed tables, just the way we like it in underground wrestling.

SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS

Back to the Heavy Stage, it was time for the one and only SLASH, accompanied by Myles Kennedy on vocals, Frank Sidoris on the guitar, Todd Kerns on bass and Brent Fitz on drums to bring old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock to our avid ears. It was still very hot in Montreal, but because the show started at 7:15pm the sun was already lower and we were able to enjoy the concert without sweating like pigs. Myles Kennedy, who looks like a rocker version of Kevin Bacon, is such a great singer to the point I even forgot it was Slash on the guitar at times, showcasing all his refined skills in excellent songs like Anastasia, World on Fire and, of course, their cover version for one of Guns N’ Roses biggest hits, Nightrain. Slash was precise as usual with his unmatched riffs and solos, not to mention how happy he looked on stage, making me wonder if he’s only playing with Guns N’ Roses nowadays to have enough money to fund his solo career. Well, I’m actually happy he’s in both bands, so I can’t complain about that at all. Anyway, at this point of the festival we had already had several subgenres of heavy music, as you can see, except for our good old Thrash Metal. Guess what happened next?

ANTHRAX

From 8:15pm on, Heavy Montreal became Thrash Montreal, with Anthrax and the almighty Slayer leading us all the way into the eye of the circle pit. First, it was American Thrash Metal institution ANTHRAX who revved up our engines with their punk/hardcore-infused thrash, blasting classic moshing hymns like Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time and Antisocial for our vulgar delectation, as well as their already classic tribute to the deceased Dio, Lemmy and Dimebag with the beautiful In The End. Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante were unstoppable during their short but extremely vibrant performance, inspiring all fans to raise their fists and horns in the air and mosh like there’s no tomorrow. Moreover, I don’t know why but the festival organization decided it was a good idea to throw more cold water on the crowd when it was already nighttime, making some people run away from the stage due to that. Maybe they were trying to calm down the more excited fans who were crushing their skulls into the circle pit, who knows. What I know for sure is that I love Thrash Metal, just like Scott Ian asked us all, and I was more than happy to be able to witness one of the bands of the Big Four once again in my life.

SLAYER

Lastly, the moment everyone at Heavy Montreal was waiting for. The heaviest, most evil and most demonic band in the history of music, Thrash Metal titans SLAYER, took the province of Quebec by storm for one final time before calling it quits by the end of this year, which is something I still cannot believe but that makes total sense taking into account their age, everything that has happened to the band in the past decade, and the humongous amount of energy needed to play their music at the required (and insane) level. Although the opening acts might not have been as demolishing as their 2018 concerts in Canada, when Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God opened for them like their pulverizing concert at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph were beyond possessed during their incendiary performance at Heavy Montreal, proving once and for all why you can play Black Metal, Death Metal or any other type of extreme music, but you’ll never be as badass as Slayer.

If their 2015 album Repentless was indeed their last studio album ever, let’s say they’re retiring in style, as the intro Delusions of Saviour plus the frantic thrashing hymn Repentless were everything they needed to set fire to Heavy Montreal. After that insane start it was pure Armageddon, with old school classics such as Evil Has No Boundaries and Mandatory Suicide being intertwined with newer songs like World Painted Blood and Payback (as Mr. Araya said, “payback is a bitch, motherfucker!”), and even songs they haven’t played in a while such as Gemini, Temptation and Born of Fire. By the way, Slayer played nothing more, nothing less than FIVE songs from Seasons in the Abyss, including of course the battle hymn War Ensemble (where Mr. Araya kindly asked us all to scream “WAAAAAAAAAR!” together with him), the serial killer-inspired classic Dead Skin Mask, and obviously the album’s flawless obscure title-track, or in other words, half of their 1990 masterpiece for our total delight. Furthermore, it was absolutely amazing witnessing all fans at the festival screaming “SLAAAAAYYYYEEEERRRR!”, “FUCKIN’ SLAYER!” and even “OLE OLE OLE OLE! SLAYER, SLAYER!” at the top of their lungs before, during and after the concert, showing a beautiful connection with the band as they masterfully played an avalanche of Thrash Metal classics amidst the flames burning on stage, ending with the all-time classic Angel of Death, including Mr. Araya’s famous demented roar at the beginning.

Gary Holt was once again fantastic on the guitar (needless to say, I can’t wait for the next Exodus album), Paul Bostaph couldn’t stop smashing his drums and our skulls, and Kerry King was the usual beast incarnate shredding his guitar chords manically from start to finish while all fans slammed their souls into the never-ending mosh pits. However, it was Tom Araya who stole the show with a perfect vocal performance, and after everything was said and done he didn’t leave the stage until he could thank each and every fan at the festival for our passionate support through the years. We could clearly see he was very emotional, very touched by our love for Slayer, and we were able to read his lips when he said “I’m gonna miss you, guys…” while tears fell from his eyes. Well, we’re going to miss his screams too, if that’s actually going to be the end of Slayer. Kerry King didn’t cry but he simply raised both fists in the air and roared like a wild beast, as the “demonic machine of Thrash Metal” he is. Maybe that’s his way of saying “thank you!” and crying tears of joy? At least that’s what all fans kept doing while returning from the festival on the subway, screaming SLAYER! SLAYER! SLAYER! nonstop. And that’s what we’ll keep doing forever and ever, even if Quebec, the rest of Canada and any other part of the world never see the band playing live again after this farewell tour is over. Thank you, SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYEEEERRRRR! Heavy Montreal loves you!

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Evil Has No Boundaries
World Painted Blood
Postmortem
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Gemini
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
Payback
Temptation
Born of Fire
Seasons in the Abyss
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Black Magic
Dead Skin Mask
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums