Album Review – Zarraza / Necroshiva (2018)

These Kazakh corpse gods of Thrash Metal take no prisoners in their quest for extreme music, infecting us all and spilling our blood into the circle pit to the sound of their new pulverizing album.

Formed in 2010 in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis set in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, Kazakhstan Thrash Metal maniacs Zarraza have just released their long-awaited debut album Necroshiva, following up to the band’s 2013 EP Cutting Meat. Fast & Loud. And one of the hardest working metal bands in Central Asia, having already played in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, takes no prisoners in their quest for extreme music, with each of the eight groovy and pulverizing songs in Necroshiva crushing your minds mercilessly like a runaway train of evil.

Comprised of Nick Khalabuzar on vocals and guitar, Alex Filatoff on bass and Ruslan Konon on drums, Zarraza’s only concern in Necroshiva is how their lyrics would be translated into Kazakh or Russian. “Anti-religious songs full of sarcasm and quotes from Giordano Bruno and Pierre-Simon de Laplace are not welcomed in a country where there is a significant Muslim population,” said the band, but that seems to be only a minor issue for them in the end. Displaying a beyond devilish and somber cover artwork by Russian artist V. Smerdulak (Katalepsy, Melancholy, Semargl, Arkona), Necroshiva is everything we love in Thrash and Groove Metal, being highly recommended for all mandatory thrashing activities such as slamming into the pit, headbanging like a beast and raising your horns to the band’s infuriated music.

Abyss Above Me kicks off the album with an explosion of brutal and austere Thrash Metal, a fantastic welcome card by this Kazakh squad led by the demented drumming by Ruslan and the raspy, choleric vocals by Nick, bringing elements from Groove, Death and Black Metal, and their furious onrush of extreme music goes on in the also belligerent Shadows, with Nick sounding bestial with both his growls and riffs, while Alex adds tons of groove to the musicality with his rumbling bass. Then we have the title-track Necroshiva, an insanely demolishing display of Thrash Metal with a strong progressive vein, where Ruslan is even more impressive with his intricate beats and fills and its modern-day lyrics go along extremely well with the music (“War’s for gods… Slaughter of lambs / It’s hecatomb we made for thousand years / Immortal rites of human sacrifice / Transformed into modern way of life”); followed by another complex and infuriated tune titled More Than Hate, an almost-Death Metal creation by the quartet led by Nick’s spot-on riffs and solos, with the level of adrenaline being exactly what you need to crush your skull into the circle pit.

Dark waves permeate the air in the melancholic and apocalyptic bridge Echo Of The Future, setting the stage for the modernized thrashing feast named Dead Star, displaying hints of Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy and the early days of In Flames. Furthermore, Nick managed to sound even more boisterous on vocals, as well as the metallic bass lines by Alex which will punch you in the head mercilessly. After such beautiful exhibit of extreme music, get ready for a Progressive Thrash Metal voyage in Voice Of The Forgotten, with the music flowing in some sort of demonic Dream Theater-ish mode, but of course with Nick bringing rage to the sound with his roars, all spiced up by some electrifying guitar solos. And ending the album on a high and violent note we have 150 Words, with its lyrics reeking of malignancy (“Serpent – you crawled inside my world / To steal – affections of my soul / To brew your bile words of hate / And sting me in back to weaken / Your only way to live is betrayal / Soaking dirt to digest”). Musically speaking, it’s a frantic, violent Thrash and Death Metal attack by Zarraza, leaving us eager for more of their devastating music.

I’m not sure if you have already realized you’re in front of a metal band from the distant land of Kazakhstan playing top-notch Thrash and Groove Metal that only the finest bands from the United States, the land of thrash, are capable of reproducing, which means you should definitely show your total support to Zarraza by buying Necroshiva (available for a full listen on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page, CD Baby, iTunes or Amazon, and by following them on Facebook, VKontakte and YouTube. The corpse gods from Kazakhstan are among us to stay, and you better be prepared to spill your blood into the pit in the name of Thrash Metal.

Best moments of the album: Abyss Above Me, Necroshiva and Dead Star.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Abyss Above Me 5:00
2. Shadows 3:48
3. Necroshiva 3:13
4. More Than Hate 3:28
5. Echo Of The Future (instrumental) 1:29
6. Dead Star 5:38
7. Voice Of The Forgotten 4:39
8. 150 Words 3:27

Band members
Nick Khalabuzar – vocals, guitar
Alex Filatoff – bass
Ruslan Konon – drums

Guest musician
Evgen Hablack – bass on “Necroshiva”

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Metal Chick of the Month – Mallika Sundaramurthy

Eat the dead, cut the flesh!

Let’s turn up the heat on this last month of summer here on The Headbanging Moose with some old school, gory and extremely violent Death Metal, and in order to do that in style we have “recruited” the unstoppable Mallika Sundaramurthy, frontwoman for American Technical/Brutal Death Metal band Abnormality, as our metal chick of the month. Born in Gardner, a city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, in the United States, but currently residing in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic (or Czechia), Mallika is not only the owner of a potent voice, but she’s also absolutely passionate for all things Death Metal, being a huge supporter of underground metal as a fan, as a musician and as a businesswoman as well. Having said that, get ready to slam into a vicious circle pit together with Mallika, because things are about to get as savage and heavy as hell.

Half Indian and half English-American, with her father coming from Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, and her mother being from New Hampshire, a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, Mallika is married to Russian musician Serge Gordeev, from Death Metal bands like Epicardiectomy and Fleshbomb. As you can see, pure Death Metal runs through the veins of the couple, which led to the creation of their own label Ultimate Massacre Productions. But before we talk about their label, let’s focus on the early days of Mallika, who has been playing in Death Metal bands since 2002, a couple of years after she graduated from Gardner High School, located in Gardner, Massachusetts. While Mallika was giving her first steps in extreme music, she was at the same time studying illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston, Massachusetts, which she graduated in 2004. And that knowledge she gained through her studies was not in vain, becoming a fundamental part of her up-and-coming career.

Regarding her career as a musician, Mallika got into Heavy Metal during her high school years. In the beginning, Mallika was more into classic rock and metal the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Alice in Chains, with her taste for heavier and more brutal music growing after she started listening to the pulverizing Death Metal by Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. By the way, becoming a fan of Death Metal was the main reason why she decided to do extreme vocals, which is pretty much the same path followed by anyone who chooses to play an instrument based on their favorite bands and styles. And just as a side note, our ruthless growler joined her first metal band while studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, but there aren’t any details available online about that part of her career.

What you will for sure find online are all details about her history with her own Death Metal band, Massachusetts-based squad Abnormality, formed in late 2005 by Mallika together with guitarist Jeremy Henry, drummer Jay Blaisdell and guitarist Michael O’Meara (who left the band in 2009), with bassist Josh Staples joining the band in 2009 and guitarist Sam Kirsch in 2015 to complete their current lineup. The band strives to make high quality extreme music without worrying about conforming to certain boundaries or styles, having released to date a four-track demo in 2007 (including the song Visions, which found its way onto the popular video game Rock Band 2 as a bonus track), a three-track EP titled The Collective Calm in Mortal Oblivion in 2010, and the full-length albums Contaminating the Hive Mind in 2012, and Mechanisms of Omniscience in 2016. If you want to have a very good taste of all the brutality and electricity flowing from the music by Abnormality, you can check for instance their official videos on YouTube for the songs Mechanisms of Omniscience, Monarch Omega, and Fabrication of the Enemy, or even take a more detailed listen at their full discography at their own BandCamp page (which obviously means you should also buy their albums from there). Furthermore, Mallika mentioned in one of her interviews that Abnormality did a cover version for the classic Desperate Cry by Sepultura at the formation of the band when she joined a band named Teratism on stage, impressing their then members Jay and Michael (culminating with the creation of Abnormality, as you can see), also playing other cover songs live over the years such as Eric Clapton’s Cocaine and Death’s The Philosopher, but never including any of those in their recorded material. Finally, one last interesting note about Abnormality is that their first concert ever happened in 2006 at a house party organized by their drummer Jay, including the bands Dehumanized, Sexcrement and Soul Remnants. That was probably one hell of a demolishing Death Metal party, I must say.

Apart from Abnormality, Mallika, who takes care of her potent voice by doing usual things like getting proper rest, keeping her throat hydrated and avoiding alcohol, is also the frontwoman for American Death Metal all-female band Castrator, an international project formed in 2013 and based in New York City with members from distinct parts of the earth such as Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Colombia and the United States. As you can see by the name of the band, Castrator is a confrontational band, with all of the song titles found in their 2014 demo and 2015 EP, both titled No Victim, being some sort of feminist revenge fantasy, such as Honor Killing and The Emasculator. Mallika explained that the band was born when her friend Carolina Perez, drummer for American Death/Thrash Metal act Hypoxia, expressed the desire to form an all-female band, aiming at writing aggressive music, playing some devastating concerts, and have fun together above all things. She also mentioned it was important to bring up through the horror and intensity of their lyrics the issues and struggles women from all over of the world face every single day, in particular parts of the world where women’s rights are far behind. When writing the lyrics, Mallika researched and read countless stories and documentaries of individual cases of honor killings, as well as violence, rape, and murder against women, translating all that hatred and negative thoughts into Death Metal lyrics. In order to be smashed by Castrator, go check their BandCamp page, where you’ll be able to listen to (and to buy) the austere and utterly brutal tunes Honor Killing, No Victim and The Emasculator.

Our relentless growler was also part of American Technical/Brutal Death Metal band Parasitic Extirpation from 2011 until 2015, with whom she recorded the EP Putrid Crown, in 2014. You can enjoy Mallika kicking some serious ass in this also very interesting band with the title-track Putrid Crown,  and all other tracks directly from their BandCamp page. And even with all her duties with Abnormality, Castrator and Parasitic Extirpation, she still found time to be part of several other bands and projects as a guest musician, like singing live for British Technical Brutal Death Metal unity Unfathomable Ruination, in 2017; and being a guest studio singer in the songs Circumcised with a Chainsaw, from the 2013 album Skewered in the Sewer by Indian Brutal Death Metal act Gutslit; the title-track The Redemption of Past Supremacy, from the 2012 album The Redemption of Past Supremacy by American Brutal Death Metal act Habitual Defilement; Endless Outrage, from the 2016 album Ouroboric Stagnation by International Brutal Death Metal act Neurogenic;    Dies Irae…, from the 2013 album Lords of Rephaim by America Brutal Death Metal act Pathology; Tower Deflower, from the 2012 album Festering Human Remains by America Death Metal act Scaphism; the superb cover version for Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker, from the 2014 EP XXX Bargain Bin Vol​.​2 by American Death Metal act Sexcrement; and Incinerator, from the 2013 album Black and Blood by American Death Metal act Soul Remnants. As you can see, all those songs are beyond brutal and demolishing, exactly the way good Death Metal is supposed to be.

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With respect to Mallika’s main influences in music, she’s a diehard and longtime fan of several renowned acts of the Extreme Metal scene such as Suffocation, Gorgasm, Decapitated, Immolation, Cryptopsy, Cannibal Corpse, Monstrosity, Carcass and Morbid Angel, among several others, with American Death Metal masters Hate Eternal, standing out among their influences if you take a detailed listen at their music. Questioned about which album she would take to her own grave, Mallika answered Pierced from Within, released in 1995 by American Technical Death Metal band Suffocation, and while listening to that album it makes total sense as to why she handpicked it instead of tons of other classics. Needless to say, Suffocation would obviously be part of her dream metal fest lineup, also including bands such as Immolation, Deeds of Flesh, Cryptopsy (with Lord Worm), Origin, Malignancy, Monstrosity, Vader, Gorgust, Wormed, Defeated Sanity, Napalm Death, Incantation, Vile, Decapitated, Hate Eternal, Nile, Krisiun, Devourment, and so on. And lastly, when asked to list the five albums any metalhead must have in his or her collection to have a deeper understanding of what Brutal and Technical Death Metal is all about, Mallika selected Close to a World Below by Immolation, Effigy of the Forgotten by Suffocation, Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel, She Lay Gutted by Disgorge, and Masticate to Dominate by Gorgasm. Also, when questioned about what inspires her and the rest of Abnormality when writing their lyrics, she said that the whole band enjoys writing about current events at home and abroad, conspiracies, and their contempt for the New World Order, as well as other things in their lives, in their imagination, science fiction and fact, corruption, and time travel, always focusing on the darker side of humanity and never afraid to take a political stand. Of course, Mallika considers real life horror far worse than anything imagined in fiction, albeit she also thinks those monsters in fiction reflect that same dark side of our own humanity and the evils that we are capable of.

Mallika’s business side together with her utter passion for extreme music are an essential piece of Ultimate Massacre Productions, an extreme music label managed by Mallika herself and her husband Serge Gordeev, originally founded in 2012 by Serge as a licensed merch supplier for metal bands. After her arrival and after taking on Mexico’s Human Decomposition as their first signed band, the project propelled to a new and promising direction, which could be seen in her own words at that time. “We thought it would be great to build the label together, combining our collective experience and passion for music to grow Ultimate Massacre,” she said, also mentioning that “our main goal is to spread great music that we ourselves love, and to help the bands on our roster to reach new levels.” Mallika and Serge work endlessly for the joys that art brings with it, putting a lot of effort and passion into making the label a genuine home for underground extreme bands. Based in Prague, the label has increased their portfolio considerably through the years, including today bands such as Apophys, Incontinence, Chordotomy, Fungus, Imperium and Natrium. Hence, if you consider yourself a true death metaller, you can keep an eye at their official Facebook page for new kick-ass bands and releases from the underground Death Metal scene.

As aforementioned, Mallika is a huge admirer and connoisseur of underground metal music, saying she’s fine with a huge part of metal music staying underground mainly because it’s extreme and offensive, and therefore not recommended for mainstream listeners. However, she also said it’s extremely difficult to survive in the underground scene, as the majority of underground musicians have to have income coming from other sources such as day jobs despite their passion and dedication to heavy music. Well, having to face issues like that doesn’t seem to be a problem for musicians like Mallika, because the underground scene at least in the United States seems to be very strong to her eyes, with lots of great bands keeping the flames of extreme music burning bright in her homeland. For instance, she recommends bands like Malignancy, Disgorge, Dehumanized, Bloodsoaked, Guttural Secrete, Goemagot, Sapremia, Habitual Defilement and Expurgate for starters, and from her hometown she thinks you should take a good listen at Revocation, Sexcrement, Dysentery, Hivesmasher, Scalpel, Scaphism, Soul Remnants, and many, many more. She also mentioned she believes that classifications in metal such as Deathcore, Power Metal, Blackened Death Metal and so on are necessary to help listeners find new bands according to their likes and dislikes, as long as people are not carried away with creating new subgenres. Furthermore, Mallika has a very peculiar view on how many people nowadays end up knowing new bands through illegal downloads, as she understands that albeit illegal downloads are inevitable due to several reasons such as lack of money for buying all the music downloaded, those fans need to realize the bands depend on that money to stay alive, but as long as they support the bands in other ways like attending their concerts, buying a shirt or listening to their music for free on Spotify or YouTube, some sort of balance can be reached.

When asked about how she feels being a woman in a male-dominated scene like Death Metal, Mallika said she has always felt good, always having a good time with her bands since the beginning of her career. She mentioned there are more and more talented and hardworking women making a name for themselves in the Death Metal scene, being really proud of them and supporting them whenever and however she can. She said it’s not easy to be a woman in metal as there’s a lot of sexism in the world and even more discouragement for a woman to be part of the extreme music scene; however, she hopes one day that will end, and it will become something we won’t even think about discussing as men and women will just be equal in numbers and in talent. If you think about names like Angela Gossow, Tarja Turunen, Simone Simons, Doris Yeh, Cristina Scabbia and Alissa White-Gluz, not to mention all the other ladies who put their hearts and souls into making first-class metal music from all parts of the world, I also believe we’re not that far from reaching Mallika’s dream.

Last but not least, Mallika is as aforementioned a professional graphic and concept artist in the video game industry, having already worked for Harmonix Music Systems (the company that created the Rock Band franchise) for four years, and later becoming a freelance artist and working for a company called Techona as a graphic artist since earlier this year. Regarding her time with Harmonix, Mallika provided a few interesting details about how Abnormality got involved in the game Rock Band 2 with the song Visions. While she was working on the game together with a team of artists, the company allowed employees to submit music for consideration to be entered into the game; at first she didn’t want to do it, but the rest of Abnormality asked her to try, and in the end the company picked their music to be one of the songs of the game together with a lot less violent (or I should say not violent at all) bands like Bon Jovi, Avenged Sevenfold and Blondie. Needless to say, Mallika is not only passionate about Death Metal, but also crazy for old school Death Metal album arts, dark fantasy and surrealism, being inspired by artists such as Zdzisław Beksiński, Wayne Barlowe, and Dan Seagrave. As a matter of fact, you can easily see all that passion for abstract art and surrealism in the Abnormality album arts, all designed and created by our obstinate growler herself, as well as the cover art for the 2012 split album Phylum Morph-Apokalupsis by American Brutal Death Metal/Grindcore bands Animals Killing People and Andromorphus Rexalia, the layout and cover art for the 2016 album Eon by American Technical Death Metal band Formless, and the cover art for the 2013 EP One Inch Monster by Swedish Thrash Metal act Sonic Assault. As talented, honest and diligent as she is, being capable of screaming and gnarling like a beast with her band and of translating all the violence and gore of Death Metal into stunning album arts, it’s more than obvious why Mallika has turned into a reference in extreme music, and may she have a long and prosperous reign as our queen of guttural vocals.

Mallika Sundaramurthy’s Official Facebook page
Mallika Sundaramurthy’s Official Twitter
Mallika Sundaramurthy’s Official YouTube channel
Mallika Sundaramurthy’s Official Instagram
Abnormality’s Official Facebook page
Abnormality’s Official Twitter
Abnormality’s Official YouTube channel
Abnormality’s Official Instagram

“I see there are many more talented women stepping up the plate in the death metal scene. I am really proud of my fellow ladies who are kicking ass, and I call many of them friends. I DO personally go out of my way to support women in metal, especially those who work hard, carry themselves professionally, and play really well. I know it’s not easy. There is so much sexism in the world, and we women are so often discouraged from taking part of the extreme metal scene.” – Mallika Sundaramurthy

Album Review – Nervosa / Downfall Of Mankind (2018)

Slam into the pit to another killing hardcore thrashing bulldozer by Brazil’s meanest all-female Thrash Metal commando unit.

After two long years, here they finally are the unrelenting Brazilian all-female Thrash Metal commando unit Nervosa with a brand new and devastating album titled Downfall Of Mankind, delivering their usual raw aggression and untamed power throughout the album’s almost 50 minutes split into 14 compositions (including the limited edition bonus track) of killing hardcore thrash. In addition, the follow-up to their sensational 2016 release Agony marks their first with drummer Luana Dametto (who also plays drums for Brazilian Death Metal squad Apophizys), adding an extra touch of pugnacity to the band’s already heavier-than-hell and faster-than-a-bullet musicality and, therefore, providing lead singer and bassist Fernanda Lira and guitarist Prika Amaral all they need to keep haunting the souls of the lighthearted with their Thrash Metal tempest.

Downfall Of Mankind perfectly captures the live energy and the old school character that defines this São Paulo-based band without neglecting the strengths of a modern, compact soundscape, bringing the most pulverizing and sharp elements from all types of extreme music such as Thrash, Death and Black Metal, but of course always being deeply rooted in our beloved Bay Area Thrash sound. Featuring a demonic artwork by Brazilian artist Hugo Silva (Abracombie Ink), and with guest musicians João Gordo (Ratos de Porão), Rodrigo Oliveira (Korzus) and Michael Gilbert (Flotsam & Jetsam) providing their share of insanity and rage to Nervosa’s music, Downfall Of Mankind is definitely one of those albums that will inspire you to slam into the circle pit and bang your head like a maniac, two of the main goals in our good old Thrash Metal,  becoming a permanent part of your most metallic playlist.

An ominous intro takes us to the demonic realm ruled by Nervosa, who don’t waste a single second and start crushing our skulls with their ruthless Thrash Metal in Horrordome, with newcomer Luana simply demolishing her drums while Fernanda delivers her already classic she-demon gnarls. This berserk tune will surely generate some interesting mosh pits during their live concerts, which is also the case in Never Forget, Never Repeat, sounding even more devilish and pulverizing and showcasing the band’s heavy artillery at its finest. Prika seems to be mastering “the art of the riff”, delivering sheer brutality in a well-balanced fusion of Thrash and Death Metal, all complemented by the song’s utterly austere, old school lyrics (“Tyranny, bigotry / Crimes against humanity / Murder, persecution / Inprisonment subordination / Enough of genocides / Enough of bloodshed / Break this perpetration / Of history’s dark past”). Then toning down a bit their rage but still sounding brutal, the power trio blasts more of their thrashing music with their riffs and beats generating a menacing wall of sounds in Enslave, followed by Bleeding, presenting hints of the contemporary music by Cannibal Corpse (which is obviously a good thing) and with Fernanda taking her growls to a deeper, more hellish level, while Luana proves why she was the perfect choice as their new drummer.

After such level of destruction, get ready for an 80’s-inspired (or I should say old school Metallica-inspired) Thrash Metal attack by those three she-devils titled …And Justice For Whom?, where the unstoppable beats by Luana dictate the rhythm while Prika continues with her shredding onrush. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see them playing this one live. And Fernanda’s rumbling bass ignites a dark, mid-tempo tune beautifully titled Vultures, a good song to break your neck headbanging with Prika once again delivering cutting riffs from start to finish (despite the fact the song could have been a little shorter, though), whereas Kill The Silence brings a classic Nervosa sonority in terms of its pace, riffs and lyrics, led by the slashing guitar lines by Prika while Fernanda keeps growling and gnarling like a beast, therefore keeping the album at a truly high level of aggressiveness. Their sonic insanity goes on in No Mercy, a more rhythmic and groovy circle pit-generator with highlights to the solid job done by Luana on drums, and Raise Your Fist!, a rebellious anthem by Nervosa bringing forward an inspirational intro with historic speeches about freedom, gender equality and equal opportunities for all, such as the timeless one by Martin Luther King, Jr., sounding melodic, violent and electrifying, all at the same time. In other words, let’s all raise our fists up in the air to this insurgent hymn by Nervosa.

Downfall Of Mankind/Limited Edition Digipack CD Fan Package

And Nervosa still have energy left for more devastation, starting with the berserk Fear, Violence And Massacre, blending the most pulverizing elements from Thrash, Death and even Black Metal, with Prika firing an awesome, melodic guitar solo halfway through it, not to mention you’ll definitely feel the urge to scream the words “fear, violence and massacre” together with Fernanda; whereas although Conflict is a decent creation by the girls, it’s a bit too generic compared to the rest of the album. There’s a lot of good stuff in the song, though, such as the incendiary riffs by Prika and its frenzied pace. The last track from the regular version of Downfall Of Mankind is the superb Cultura do Estupro, with the iconic vocalist João Gordo (Ratos de Porão) sharing the vocal duties with Fernanda in the only song of the album entirely sung in Brazilian Portuguese. I really hope João joins Nervosa during some of their live concerts to sing this cataclysmic, acid tune, with Luana sounding simply demented behind her drums. Lastly, as a bonus track to the limited edition version of the album we have Selfish Battle, featuring Rodrigo Oliveira (Korzus) on drums and Michael Gilbert (Flotsam & Jetsam) providing a nice guitar solo in a slightly different version of Nervosa, feeling more like a heavier version of 80’s Hard Rock the likes of Warlock thanks mainly to the high-pitched vocals by Fernanda.

One can never get enough of Nervosa, and if you’re already addicted to their incendiary music go check what they’re up to on Facebook and purchase your copy of Downfall Of Mankind from their own BandCamp page or from several other locations such as the Napalm Records webstore, where you can get the deluxe fan package featuring the limited edition digipack, a cover flag, a patch, leather wriststraps and a tote bag. Also, don’t forget to watch the track by track breakdown of the album by the girls on YouTube (part 1 and part 2), and obviously to keep an eye on their official website and Facebook page for whenever they take your hometown by storm. Downfall Of Mankind once again proves that thrashing like there’s no tomorrow is Nervosa’s business, and they don’t need any guy to make sure that their business continues to be more than good.

Best moments of the album: Horrordome, Never Forget, Never Repeat, …And Justice For Whom? and Cultura do Estupro.

Worst moments of the album: Vultures and Conflict.

Released in 2018 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:12
2. Horrordome 3:17
3. Never Forget, Never Repeat 4:40
4. Enslave 3:15
5. Bleeding 3:47
6. …And Justice For Whom? 3:34
7. Vultures 4:09
8. Kill The Silence 3:29
9. No Mercy 3:40
10. Raise Your Fist! 4:04
11. Fear, Violence And Massacre 3:35
12. Conflict 2:59
13. Cultura do Estupro (feat. João Gordo) 3:10

Limited Edition/Digipak bonus track
14. Selfish Battle (feat. Michael Gilbert & Rodrigo Oliveira) 3:26

Band members
Fernanda Lira – lead vocals, bass
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Luana Dametto – drums

Guest musicians
João Gordo – additional vocals on “Cultura do Estupro”
Michael Gilbert – guitar solo on “Selfish Battle”
Rodrigo Oliveira – drums on “Selfish Battle”

Album Review – Inkvisitor / Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (2018)

After suffering major lineup changes, this underground Finnish thrashing machine is back with a concept album following a neo-noir murder mystery story laced with black magic and necromancy elements.

After going through major lineup changes in the past couple of years, Jyväskylä-based Thrash Metal squad Inkvisitor is finally back with their second full-length installment, titled Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals, following up their fun and frantic full-length debut album Doctrine of Damnation, released in 2015. Part new Inkvisitor, part swansong of the old Inkvisitor, the album introduces the band’s new lead singer Markus Martinmäki and new drummer Tino Jäntti, while at the same time it also farewells their second guitarist Lauri Huttunen (not to mention their old friend and bassist Pekka Hölönen played bass on the album as a session musician).

Featuring an old school cover art by Petteri Ylitalo (Dear Death Designs), Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals is a concept album following a neo-noir murder mystery story laced with black magic and necromancy elements, with a single storyline progressing through the songs, and that’s one of the most remarkable changes from the band’s previous album, where lyrics revolved around the usual topics most Thrash Metal bands sing about such as nuclear warfare and beer. Another major change are the vocals by Markus, sounding a lot raspier than the Joey Belladonna-inspired style from their previous vocalist, adding an extra touch of aggressiveness to the entire album. In the end, although Inkvisitor are playing a different type of Thrash Metal in the new album, as aforementioned their core essence remains intact, resulting in a more-than-healthy and fun clash between their past and present musicality.

Starting in an Anthrax-like way, with both guitars exhaling metallic sounds while Tino pounds his drums mercilessly, the title-track Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals feels a lot more hardcore and pugnacious than their previous album (mainly thanks to the visceral screams by Markus, as already mentioned), and their hostile Thrash Metal extravaganza goes on in another circle pit-catalyst named Second Sacrament, with both guitarists Mikko Saviranta and Jesse Kämäräinen (as well as the departing Lauri) sounding infernal with their riffs, not to mention how bestial Tino is once again behind his drums. More modern and heavier than its predecessors and featuring the only  guest  musicians of the album  on  lead  guitars  (Sebastian Frigren and Kasper Koutonen, of  Nuclear  Omnicide  and  Devenial  Verdict), A Shadow Suspended by Dust brings massive, rumbling bass sounds which set the perfect stage for Markus and his demented growls, inspiring us to crack our necks in half headbanging.

Then speeding up their pace and mixing elements from traditional Hard Rock, Punk Rock and Rock N’  Roll with their frantic Thrash Metal, Inkvisitor deliver a full-bodied thrashing extravaganza named The Confession, with highlights to the incendiary performances by Markus and Tino. Moreover, it’s quite impossible to stand still to such high level of electricity and insanity, which can also be said about Mindslaver, another Anthrax-inspired tune with classic guitar riffs and headbanging beats, presenting lyrics about how our society has failed and how we need to start everything over (“Mankind has failed, brotherhood has been lost / The prison of the mind / And the cancer of your soul / Complete the ritual, sacrifice your family / Through death you ́ll be born again / Reclaim your throne”). In Necromancy Cascade, a slower but still very heavy and impactful composition, Markus delivers deeper, more introspective vocals while the energy in the music remains at a decent level (it never really takes off, though, falling flat after a while); whereas Paradigm Shift is a berserk, demented and totally awesome hymn by Inkvisitor showcasing all elements we love in old school Thrash Metal, with the demolishing drumming by Tino dictating the rhythm while the stringed trio Mikko, Jesse and Pekka sounds absolutely thunderous with their riffs, solos and punches.

Violence keeps flowing from all instruments in the belligerent War is Path to Victory, a song tailored for slamming into the pit with your friends while Markus screams its lyrics right in your face (“What do I think I know ́bout war? / Spare a life hand over your own / Violence consists of certainty / That war is a path to victory”), before the imposing and ruthless The Revenant (Redeemer) closes the regular version of the album, bringing to our avid ears menacing drums and bass lines, soulful riffs and solos, and the most demonic vocal lines of the entire album. And last but not least, as a bonus track for the ones who buy the album either in CD or digital (and you also get an instrumental version of the whole album and a 12-page booklet with liner notes) we have Quagmire Twilight (Deleted Scene), Inkvisitor’s darkest creation, a doom-ish tune with obscure vocal lines and piercing bass lines, with that dark and heavy aura going on until the song’s devilish ending.

As aforementioned, this new version of Inkvisitor is just as electrifying and heavy as their previous release, sounding more unfriendly (in a good way) due to their new vocal approach, and if you like what the band has to offer in this new phase you can purchase Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (available for a full listen on Spotify) from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Record Shop X, or from iTunes, and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on YouTube for more of their music, news, tour dates and all things Inkvisitor. Let’s hope that Inkvisitor’s days of major lineup changes are over and that they can now focus on touring and writing more Thrash Metal, because based on what they’re offering us all in Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals the band is on a beyond promising (and thrashing) path to success.

Best moments of the album: The Confession, Mindslaver and Paradigm Shift.

Worst moments of the album: Necromancy Cascade.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals 3:31
2. Second Sacrament 3:24
3. A Shadow Suspended by Dust 5:14
4. The Confession 3:39
5. Mindslaver 3:42
6. Necromancy Cascade 5:49
7. Paradigm Shift 4:38
8. War is Path to Victory 4:46
9. The Revenant (Redeemer) 5:45

Bonus track
10. Quagmire Twilight (Deleted Scene) 5:29

Band members
Markus Martinmäki – vocals
Mikko Saviranta – guitar
Jesse Kämäräinen – guitar
Sakari Soisalo – bass
Tino Jäntti – drums

Guest musicians
Lauri Huttunen – second rhythm guitar & lead guitar on “Second Sacrament”
Sebastian Frigren & Kappe Koutonen – lead guitars on “A Shadow Suspended by Dust”
Pekka Hölönen – bass (recording)
Kalle Raijonkari & Sampo Riikkilä – additional gang vocals

Concert Review – Slayer (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/29/2018)

And Slayer said goodbye to Toronto in the most pulverizing (and best) way you can imagine.

OPENING ACTS: Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God

I don’t know what to say about the absolute devastation that happened at the always perfect (and I dare you to name one place in this planet that’s better than that for a live concert) Budweiser Stage yesterday in Toronto. When it was announced that there was going to be a Slayer Farewell Tour, I guess they forgot to say it was going to be a farewell to their diehard fans, brave people who lost their lives while crushing their heads and spines into the nonstop, infernal mosh pits that took over the entire venue (and I believe I saw some smaller ones even in the seated areas) during the more than SIX HOURS of brutal Thrash and Death Metal blasted by some of the best bands in the history of heavy music. As a matter of fact, whoever had the initial idea of putting together on the same day/night the great Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax, Lamb Of God and Slayer deserves a huge prize and our utmost respect forever. It was totally and amazingly insane from start to finish, on a beyond beautiful and sunny day in the city. My neck hurts and I’m as tired as hell, so I’ll try to be brief in writing a little about what was supposed to be the last fulminating performance by the almighty Slayer in Toronto (and I really, really hope it was not the last time we saw those guys here).

It was past 4pm when the gates finally opened and the fans could enter the venue for some beer, for getting a little shade away from the scorching sun, and for a few curious ones to enjoy the official pre-show party with Canadian Black Metal horde Panzerfaust at the River Bar at 4:30pm. As I was dying for a beer and pumped up already for TESTAMENT at 5pm, I unfortunately couldn’t attend that mini-gig, but I guess the band won’t be mad at us for doing that, right? Anyway, at 5 o’clock high there they were Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Alex Skolnick, Steve Di Giorgio and the demonic stone crusher Gene Hoglan for a short and demolishing lecture in Thrash Metal, still promoting their latest installment, the flawless Brotherhood Of The Snake, from 2016. It was insanity in the form of seven faster-than-a-bullet songs (who doesn’t love the thrashing classic Into the Pit?), with the bestial drums by Gene sounding like he was hired by TTC to help with the excavations for a new subway station, making our chests and even hats tremble with his beats. Yes, as awesome as that.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
Practice What You Preach
The Pale King
Into the Pit
The New Order
Disciples of the Watch

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Gene Hoglan – drums

After a short bathroom break, it was time for Poland’s most iconic metal band of all time to darken the stage with their blasphemous and sulfuric music. Polish Blackened Death Metal institution BEHEMOTH lived up to the expectations even playing a shorter setlist than usual (and at daylight, something they might not be used to), mixing classics with kick-ass songs from their latest album, their 2014 opus The Satanist, plus a brand new song named Wolves ov Siberia. Mr. Adam “Nergal” Darski was on fire throughout the entire performance, proving why he’s one of the most respected metal artists of the past decade, leaving the fans eager for more of their obscure music in a not-so-distant future. One funny thing is that Behemoth were the only band to not throw to the fans any guitar picks or drumsticks, but instead they were spitting blood on the people at the front row. If that doesn’t tell you how dark their music is, I don’t know what would.

Setlist
Ov Fire and the Void
Demigod
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Another bathroom break, another beer, and at 6:55pm sharp (don’t you feel amazed with how punctual all events are in Toronto?) it was time for the old school, slamming, riff-oriented Thrash Metal by the one and only ANTHRAX, who (guess what?) delivered a sequence of seven ass-kicking, frantic songs, including Evil Twin, from their 2016 album For All Kings, and beautiful classics such as I Am the Law, Madhouse and Indians. Scott Ian and Frank Bello were in their usual “I’m playing on stage but I’m also moshing up here together with you guys in the pit” mode, while Joey Belladonna was beyond happy with the warm reaction of the fans to each one of their songs. The low point of the show was that unfortunately Charlie Benante couldn’t play with the band as a result of an ongoing battle with carpal tunnel in his wrists, but the good thing is that he was replaced by the monstrous Gene Hoglan. Do I need to say more? In addition, Mr. Belladonna said that the concert yesterday was Anthrax’s biggest crowd ever in Toronto, and I’m sure everyone who was there banging their heads to their music was more than happy to have been part of such important day to the band.

Setlist
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
I Am the Law
Madhouse
Evil Twin
Antisocial (Trust cover)
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Gene Hoglan – drums*

*Replaced Charlie Benante due to illness.

After all the havoc generated by Testament, Behemoth and Anthrax, there was still more to come with Groove Metal titans LAMB OF GOD, still promoting their 2015 album VII: Sturm und Drang, and let me tell you the show was so heavy and insane I think some people went missing after the demented circle pits ignited by Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen. Playing a solid mix of songs from all of their albums, with all of them of course being as brutal as hell, Lamb Of God put a huge smile on the faces of their diehard fans, with Randy also praising all the bands of the “mini-festival”, requesting everyone to pay a humble tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair with a few WOOOOO’s, and jumping up and down like a maniac on stage nonstop. Well, everything a Redneck loves in life, right? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but was Randy wearing some sort of ankle monitor still due to the manslaughter case he was involved and arrested for a few years ago? If that’s the case, well, that’s what I call a badass frontman, ladies and gentlemen.

Setlist
Omerta
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
512
Engage the Fear Machine
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Laid to Rest
Redneck

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

SLAYER

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” It’s with these classic words that I want to introduce you to the end of all days in the form of the Satanic Thrash Metal blasted by the heaviest, the most awesome and the most destructive band in the world, the all-powerful SLAYER. Actually, I should say FUCKIN’ SLAYER, or even SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR, as this is the right way to refer to the unrelenting Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and the second stone crusher of the night, the barbaric Paul Bostaph (another guy that probably got some money from TTC to speed up the subway excavations yesterday). Playing at least one song from each one of their crushing albums, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy to their 2015 opus Repentless (with the exception of their 1998 controversial album Diabolus in Musica), Slayer put on a flammable performance (and I’m not using the word flammable in vain, as there was A LOT of fire during the whole concert), turning the entire floor section into one supreme, hot-as-hell, motherfuckin’ savage circle pit.

And that mix of classic Slayer with their more contemporary albums workd extremely well, creating a hellish balance of sounds for the total delectation of all admirers of their undisputed Thrash Metal. It was fantastic watching them performing faster, newer tunes like Repentless, Disciple, Hate Worldwide and Jihad, while at the same time delivering their classic infernal melodies in Mandatory Suicide, Postmortem and Black Magic. For instance, in my humble opinion the sequence comprised of Payback (one of the most pulverizing songs of the night), Seasons in the Abyss, Dittohead and Dead Skin Mask simply proves how timeless their music is, and how important they’ll always be to the world of heavy music. Then from Hell Awaits until the grand finale with the all-time classic Angel of Death it was an absolute chaos, with the circle pit getting bigger and bigger, people screaming at the top of their lungs and crowd surfing nonstop like if there was no tomorrow, and sweat and beer flowing everywhere. And I’m not going to say how cataclysmic the metal hymn Raining Blood was. If you were not there, you don’t deserve to know.

One thing I’ll never understand is how Mr. Paul Bostaph managed to play drums at that insane speed and intensity with all those blistering hot fires burning almost all the time all around his drum set. I think that proves he’s not human, as none of the guys from Slayer are. As a matter of fact, Slayer are a four-headed, rabid beast that would make even the “hound of Hades” Cerberus put his tail between his legs and run away, and if this was in fact their farewell tour, well, they’ll be beyond missed by all of us, diehard Slayer fans who consider Dead Skin Mask one of the best “ballads” ever composed by any band. Let’s wait and see if we’ll be treated to at least one more Slayer apocalypse in Toronto in the coming years as a second, third or whatever leg of their farewell tour, I don’t care, as long as they return. Now it’s time to take some rest from all madness from yesterday, do the body count (and maybe there are even some bodies floating in Lake Ontario near the venue), take a deep breath and keep doing what we all know how to at home, at school, at work or anywhere else where some good and reverberating screaming in required. And you know what word you need to burst your lungs screaming, right?

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Blood Red
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Jihad
When the Stillness Comes
Postmortem
Black Magic
Payback
Seasons in the Abyss
Dittohead
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Chemical Warfare
Angel of Death

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

Album Review – Sahon / Chanting For The Fallen (2018)

Waging a war against stereotypes since the late 90’s, here comes a fast and furious power trio with their band new and electrifying opus, showcasing all their pride for their Korean heritage.

Although you might have never heard of South Korean Thrash Metal squad Sahon, those Asian metallers have been waging a war against stereotypes since the late 90’s, forging a sound that distills the best elements of Extreme Metal into a form of Thrash Metal that holds its own when pitted against the rest. Now in 2018 it’s time for vocalist and bassist Yong Ho Lee, guitarist Chang Myeong Lee and drummer Kyoung Hong Kim to unleash their latest opus, entitled Chanting For The Fallen, a lesson in Thrash Metal that showcases all the band’s pride for their Korean heritage and, as a consequence, makes them stand out in an overcrowded genre.

Formed in 1999 in the Korean capital Seoul, Sahon have always played austere and frantic Thrash Metal heavily influenced by both Death and Black Metal, singing about everyday topics such as politics, death, hate, Satanism and sex, being highly recommended for fans of renowned acts like Exodus, Destruction and Kreator. After the releases of a few full-length albums and one EP, Sahon are sharper than ever with their new installment Chanting For The Fallen, with the album’s stunning and peculiar artwork depicting their strong connection with their culture and country’s heritage, adding an extra touch of awesomeness to an album that has no weaknesses and shows no mercy for our spinal cords.

The pounding drums by Kyoung Hong Kim and the rumbling bass by Yong Ho Lee ignite the Slayer-inspired thrashing feast Faith of Savagery, bringing forward a demolishing sonority led by the demented vocals by Yong Ho Lee during the song’s four minutes of brutality highly recommended for simply getting smashed into the circle pit. And Chang Myeong Lee keeps firing old school Thrash Metal riffs through his flammable guitar in the insanely awesome At The Edge Of Cliff, while Yong Ho Lee vociferates like a maniac nonstop, living up to the legacy of Bay Area Thrash; followed by Survive, presenting a band that doesn’t know how to slow down or sound less violent than their music idols. Furthermore, not only this fun composition carries a name that’s beyond perfect to be the soundtrack to a brutal mosh pit, but Kyoung Hong Kim sounds truly infernal on drums from start to finish, keeping the song’s pace at a demented level. Less intense in terms of speed but extremely heavy and aggressive, Condemnation presents Yong Ho Lee not only barking like a beast, but his bass lines are also as thunderous as hell, with the music exploding into classic Thrash Metal in its final (and pulverizing) segment.

And there’s no time to breathe with another sonic havoc crafted by the Korean power trio of Thrash Metal, titled Charge Till The End, a song that shows all their passion for the boisterous music by iconic bands like Slayer and Exodus, spiced up by some classic guitar solos by Chang Myeong Lee. Then with its intro and initial riff inspired by Motörhead’s all-time classic “Overkill”, which ends up giving the song a more visceral and electrifying vibe, Born To Lose Live To Win brings forward amazing performances by all three band members, in special Kyoung Hong Kim with his ass-kicking beats, in what can be considered the ultimate fusion of old school Thrash Metal and badass Rock N’ Roll. In Joy Of Hatred the band delivers more Thrash Metal from the 80’s to your metallic years with a modern twist, with Chang Myeong Lee once again cutting our skin like a butcher with his razor-edged strings. In other words, it can’t get any thrashier than this. And lastly, their coup de grâce comes in the form of a one-and-a-half minute infernal hurricane of Thrash Metal with strong Black Metal influences and nuances titled You Shall Pay, where Yong Ho Lee has his most disturbing and demonic vocal performance of the whole album.

All the madness and devastation in the form of Thrash Metal blasted by Sahon can be better appreciated by following them on Facebook, and of course by purchasing Chanting For The Fallen from their own BandCamp page or from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore. After listening to this sensational album of old school, unrelenting Thrash Metal, not only you’ll get addicted to the music by Sahon, but I bet you’ll start saving some money to travel to South Korea just to have the pleasure of witnessing at least one live performance of the trio, smashing everything and everyone that crosses their path with absolutely no mercy.

Best moments of the album: At The Edge Of Cliff, Survive and Born To Lose Live To Win.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Transcending Obscurity Asia

Track listing
1. Faith of Savagery 4:27
2. At The Edge Of Cliff 3:15
3. Survive 3:52
4. Condemnation 3:56
5. Charge Till The End 3:44
6. Born To Lose Live To Win 4:16
7. Joy Of Hatred 4:57
8. You Shall Pay 1:38

Band members
Yong Ho Lee – vocals, bass
Chang Myeong Lee – guitar
Kyoung Hong Kim – drums

Album Review – Xenoblight / Procreation (2018)

A precious gem of Progressive Thrash and Death Metal made in Denmark, courtesy of an up-and-coming horde that’s more than ready to take the entire world of heavy music by storm.

Hailing from Silkeborg, a small city located in the middle of the Jutlandic peninsula in Denmark, here comes a new Extreme Metal horde that goes by the powerful name of Xenoblight, playing a multi-layered fusion of Progressive Thrash and Death Metal characterized by an intense and blistering atmosphere, while at the same time maintaining an apathetic and melancholic lyrical universe. Although the band is relatively new to the scene, being founded in the beginning of 2017, Xenoblight spent the following year carefully crafting their first record while playing only a limited number of shows before entering the studio, unleashing now in 2018 their debut opus Procreation.

Featuring an obscure and stylish artwork by Fendie Art, Procreation not only brings forward in its ten unrelenting and totally demolishing tracks what the band comprised of the she-demon Marika Hyldmar on vocals, Rasmus Tobias Clemmensen and Mikkel Jepsen on the guitars, Steffen Hagelskjær on bass and Thomas Halborg Madsen on drums is capable of, but it’s also a lesson in how to blend the best elements from old school and modern extreme music with tons of progressiveness and feeling, turning it into a must-have for any diehard fan of the music by renowned bands such as Behemoth, Cattle Decapitation, Gojira, Kreator, Skeletonwitch and Fleshgod Apocalypse, among several others.

In the intro Procreation the band offers the usual “calm before the storm” until they come crushing like a bulldozer in Descension, a crisp and modern display of Progressive Death Metal with a lot of punch where Marika begins gnarling the song’s lyrics in a beyond devilish way (“Behold our entitled savior / Spreading knowledgeable fumes / Binding hands with a single glance / Beredied for a stance… / …Entering the mortal realm / With stricts holds of selfproclaimed victories free from shame”), also showcasing a fantastic job done by Thomas with his piercing beats and fills. And Steffen Hagelskjær kicks off the dark tune Shapeshifter with his menacing bass, with the music morphing into a flammable hybrid of Thrash and Death Metal where Rasmus and Mikkel slash our ears with their heavy and metallic riffs.

Obsidian Chromatism is a traditional Progressive Death Metal creation where the entire band fires sheer aggressiveness, building the perfect stage for Marika and her demonic growls; whereas in the song that carries the band’s name, Xenoblight, we’re treated to three minutes of piercing sounds and nonstop beats and fills in a demolishing instrumental voyage, with highlights to the scorching guitar riffs by Rasmus and Mikkel. Then without giving us a single second to breathe Xenoblight keep blasting pure evil through their instruments in Nocturnal Manifestations, a frantic, furious and superb display of modern-day Thrash and Death Metal led by the enraged screams by Marika, with Thomas once again sounding brutally amazing on drums while Rasmus and Mikkel are bestial with their solos, followed by Transcendence, where a whimsical start morphs into another explosion of contemporary and vibrant Thrash and Death Metal, sounding like a hybrid between Exodus and Death. Moreover, Marika takes her insanity to a whole new level, making it the perfect opportunity for cracking your spine in half into the circle pit.

Kill Yourself. brings less than a minute of pulverizing Blackened Thrash Metal by the band, and even with such restricted amount of time in their hands they were capable of delivering a fun and electrifying tune, setting the stage for the full-bodied Predominance, led by the classic shredding by the band’s guitar duo. Furthermore, in this bold and thrilling 6-minute ode to devastation, Thomas not only is a beast on drums but the complexity of his beats is outstanding and, needless to say, Marika once again kicks us in the head with her hellish roars. And an instrumental start warms up the listener for the rabid harsh growls by Marika in the closing song Virus, perhaps the most progressive of all tracks, showcasing thrashier-than-hell, austere lyrics (“Delusional pesticides / Stand asunder / Tributing their gods / Keepers of the luminescent humanoid pollution”) in a display of first-class European Extreme Metal, also bringing gripping guitar lines and an extremely crisp drumming.

You can take a very good and detailed listen at this precious gem of Danish extreme music on Spotify, and follow the band on Facebook and on YouTube to keep up to date with all things Xenoblight. And in order to show your proper support not only to the band but to underground metal in general, you can purchase Procreation directly from the band’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel (as a regular CD version or as a CD + shirt bundle), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. Xenoblight are set to take the world by storm with their incendiary debut opus, and if you consider yourself a true fan of extreme music you must have such incredible album on your hands. Because in the end, if you don’t buy it, I guess Marika and her henchmen will have to pay you a not-very-pleasant visit, if you know what I’m saying.

Best moments of the album: Shapeshifter, Nocturnal Manifestations, Transcendence and Predominance.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Procreation (Instrumental) 1:01
2. Descension 4:37
3. Shapeshifter 5:35
4. Obsidian Chromatism 4:46
5. Xenoblight (Instrumental) 2:57
6. Nocturnal Manifestations 6:58
7. Transcendence 5:16
8. Kill Yourself. 0:52
9. Predominance 6:22
10. Virus 5:31

Band members
Marika Hyldmar – vocals
Rasmus Tobias Clemmensen – guitar
Mikkel Jepsen – guitar
Steffen Hagelskjær – bass
Thomas Halborg Madsen – drums

Album Review – Kaos Reign / Epiphany (2018)

This American Groove Metal power trio returns with a brand new album showcasing more of their crushing guitars, gritty vocals and thrash and groove drumming.

Norwalk, Connecticut-based Groove Metal power trio Kaos Reign is here to assault your senses with their unique mix of Death, Doom, Groove And Thrash Metal, drawing influences from early Sepultura, Slayer, Death and Pantera. Formed in 2013 by lead singer and guitarist Bill Klopfer and drummer Chris Anderson, the band has been on a roll since their inception, having already released the full-length albums Embrace the Fire, in 2014, Screaming for Salvation, in 2016, and now in 2018 their brand new opus Epiphany, an album that continues to follow Kaos Reign’s path of crushing guitars, gritty vocals, and thrash and groove drumming, but at the same time showing an evolution in their music.

More refined and dynamic than its predecessors, and featuring a straightforward, dark artwork by the band’s own Bill Klopfer, Epiphany brings a band that’s in absolute sync, with Bill’s vocals sounding versatile while his riffs are memorable and captivating. Bassist Matt Duggan rounds out the sound with the execution of his distinctive bass lines, whereas Chris Anderson’s extreme drumming portrays confidence and style. With its lyrics touching on themes of inner struggle, determination to overcome, and societal issues, encouraging us to proceed with caution and understand the chaos that consumes us, Epiphany will certainly please fans of fast and extreme music who are also searching for gripping background stories that effectively spice up the music being played.

Wicked, dark sounds ignite a belligerent Groove Metal onslaught by Kaos Reign titled Selfish Backstabber, displaying a solid instrumental, endless electricity, and Bill screaming the song’s acid lyrics like there’s no tomorrow (“I watch your actions and learn / You preach your belief, you don’t believe / You taste so sour I yack / The aftertaste, post nasal burning”). Following such sharp start we have a hybrid of Thrash Metal and Hardcore named Dispatch the Threat, where Chris keeps smashing his drums, therefore inspiring us to slam into the pit, with the song’s cleaner vocals sounding like a metal version of Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha; and Lethal Injection, bringing more rumbling and groovy sounds blasted by Bill and Matt while Chris continues to add intricacy to the band’s violent music. Put differently, this is an excellent choice for their live concerts and a fantastic addition to the playlist of anyone who loves modern Groove Metal. And the title-track Epiphany presents darker elements in its intro, suddenly morphing into another crushing metal attack and also displaying hints of Southern Metal, with all instruments together generating a hurricane of heavy sounds and tones.

The album loses its grip a little with the not-so-inspired tune The Criminal Inside, despite all aggressiveness showcased by the band and the always rhythmic beats by Chris, but fortunately in Parasite the band gets back on track with their flammable Groove Metal, with highlights to the thrilling guitar lines by Bill and to more of their austere and aggressive words (“Leeching off society / A parasite sucks the blood / Right from / the eye of the storm / The side effects / are visible”). Under the Knife is the most visceral and destructive of all songs, and therefore one of the top moments of the album, with all three band members extracting crushing sounds form their instruments, presenting a great sync between Bill’s riffs and Chris’ drums, not to mention the metallic bass lines by Matt, whereas in Everyone is Offended they slow down their dementia, but still sounding heavier than hell. In a nutshell, this is a mid-tempo, groovy creation by Kaos Reign where Bill keeps sending a not-so-happy message through his demented vocals.

And their slamming party goes on with another melodic and fierce song titled How Do You Sleep at Night?, where Chris doesn’t stop pounding his drums and Bill even brings forth some thrashier riffs the likes of Slayer and Testament. Punish Myself is perfect for headbanging like a maniac, blending the thunderous sounds of Groove Metal with the slashing insanity of Thrash Metal, with Bill smashing his strings mercilessly without forgetting to add harmony to the music; followed by Placebo, a lot less groovy and venturing through Southern Metal grounds, singing about the dangerous market of addictive legal drugs (“I am on a big dose / I feel so comforted and relaxed / Why live life sober? / When you can be prescribed happiness”). However, despite being a relatively good song, it definitely lacks the band’s characteristic speed. And Isolation Chamber, the most somber and wicked of all tracks, closes the album on a high (and obscure) note, even presenting elements from Doom Metal (especially on Chris’ beats and Bill’s vocals).

If you want to show your support to this talented and unrelenting American power trio, you can purchase Epiphany (which by the way is available for a full listen on Spotify) from the band’s own BandCamp page, from CD Baby or from Amazon, but as you already know the world of Kaos Reign is not limited to Epiphany only, which means you can get an overdose of their belligerent music by visiting them on Facebook, on YouTube, on ReverbNation and on SoundCloud. And I believe you might be asking yourself what will be the next step in the evolving path crafted by Kaos Reign, right? Well, let’s hope it doesn’t take too long for us all to have an answer to that and get more of their sharp metal music sooner than expected.

Best moments of the album: Selfish Backstabber, Lethal Injection, Parasite and Under the Knife.

Worst moments of the album: The Criminal Inside and Placebo.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Selfish Backstabber 5:12
2. Dispatch the Threat 4:11
3. Lethal Injection 4:45
4. Epiphany 4:09
5. The Criminal Inside 4:21
6. Parasite 4:54
7. Under the Knife 3:53
8. Everyone is Offended 4:39
9. How Do You Sleep at Night? 4:35
10. Punish Myself 5:26
11. Placebo 4:32
12. Isolation Chamber 4:53

Band members
Bill Klopfer – vocals, guitar
Matt Duggan – bass
Chris Anderson – drums

Album Review – Strangle Wire / The Dark Triad EP (2018)

Enjoy this short and sweet lesson in Death Metal made in Northern Ireland, taking you into the dark heart of the human condition.

Behind the locked doors that lie in the shadows, at the end of forgotten passageways, in the depths of every human mind, madness waits, scratching at the splintered wood with bleeding fingers. However, sometimes those locks fail, or the keys are purposefully turned, unleashing the monsters from within. The Dark Triad, the brand new EP by Northern Irish Death Metal quartet Strangle Wire, is the sound of the monsters set free, the sound of broken minds and twisted personalities, and the sound of an insidious assault on the light that keeps the night at bay.

Formed in 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, the band comprised of I (Pete Clarke) on vocals, II (Greg “Daff” Diffin) on bass, III (Ross Duffy) on the guitar, and IV (John Curlett) on drums plays what can be called “Psychological Death Metal”, being highly recommended for fans of Dying Fetus, Cannibal Corpse and Sinister, among several other Death Metal icons. Featuring a classic artwork by British musician and designer Tom Bradfield, The Dark Triad is divided into three sections, entitled Narcissism, Psychopathy and Machiavellianism, taking the listener into the dark heart of the human condition, propelling them ever onward with a musical force of savage intensity, Death Metal possessed of speed, groove and supreme heaviness.

III (or Ross, if you prefer) kicks off the Death Metal hurricane titled The Games They Play with his metallic riffs before pure anarchy and devastation take over the world, with I (Pete) firing his deep, enraged and bestial growls nonstop. Put differently, this is one of those songs tailored for fans of extreme music who simply love to slam into the pit more than they love anything else in life. Then tribal sounds start another heavier-than-hell, putrid Death Metal feast named The Narcissist, a slow and steady tune from the pits of hell led by the rhythmic beats by IV (John), while II (Greg) and III keep slashing our skin with their demonic strings. Then we have Psychopathic Blue, showcasing guitar lines that remind me of the work done by Thrash Metal acts like Slayer and Testament, but still being pulverizing and demonic as good old Death Metal should be. The quartet is on fire and in total sync throughout the entire song, delivering belligerent and rabid sounds for our total delight, with I’s hellish roars getting even deeper and more primeval.

And their metallic demolition goes on with more furious blast beats, infernal vociferations and crushing riffs in The Failure Exhibit, where the band practically demands that we all get into the circle pit and slam to the total havoc they generate by their instruments; whereas if you’re a diehard fan of old school Death Metal the likes of Cannibal Corpse you’ll have a blast with Through a Black Lens, where IV sounds like a machine gun on drums while I is a demonic bulldozer on vocals. Furthermore, there isn’t a single second of peace during the entire song, it’s nonstop action boosted by the excellent riffage by III and a beyond violent atmosphere. And last but not least, as the final onrush of extreme music by Strangle Wire we’re treated to a headbanging, menacing chant titled Den of Iniquity, sounding insanely heavy from the very first second until its neck-breaking end, while I keeps barking like a creature from a deep and dark cave.

The Dark Triad, which is available for purchase from the Grindscene Records’ webstore, from Code 7, or from Amazon, is not only a very promising and vibrant start for Strangle Wire, but also a “mini-lesson” in how to properly unite technique, feeling and rage in Death Metal and in extreme music in general. And if that’s just a mini-lesson as I said, can you imagine how pulverizing Strangle Wire will sound when they come back with their first full-length lecture?

Best moments of the album: The Games They Play and Through a Black Lens.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Grindscene Records

Track listing  
1. The Games They Play 3:33
2. The Narcissist 4:26
3. Psychopathic Blue 3:21
4. The Failure Exhibit 3:39
5. Through a Black Lens 3:56
6. Den of Iniquity 4:50

Band members
I – vocals
II – bass
III – guitar
IV – drums

Album Review – Dormanth / IX Sins (2018)

Succumb to the dark side with the well-crafted and entertaining collection of crushing, riff-oriented Doom and Death Metal tunes by an old school act hailing from Spain.

Born in Bilbao, Spain in January 1993 after various experiences of its components in different bands, such as Nopresion, Beer Mosh and Elbereth, Melodic Doom/Death Metal act Dormanth went on an almost 20-year hibernation period in 1996 after releasing their debut album Valley of Dreams, in 1995, breaking the silence in 2015 with the release of the EP Voice of the Soul… Under the Tears of Sun, followed by the full-length album Winter Comes, in 2016. And it looks like Dormanth are on a roll on this second phase of the band, as their brand new album, titled IX Sins, is an extremely well-crafted and entertaining collection of crushing, riff-oriented metal tunes that will certainly drag your soul into pitch black darkness.

Comprised of founding member Oscar del Val on vocals and guitar, Javi Prieto on lead guitar, newcomer Miguel A. Richart on bass and Victor Franquelo on drums, Dormanth are an unstoppable Extreme Metal machine in IX Sins, delivering nine pestilent, heavier-than-hell compositions (or maybe we should call them “sins”) that will please most fans of the darker and more lugubrious vibe of the fusion between Doom and Death Metal. Furthermore, Spanish artist Igor “Mugi” Mugerza (Abigor Artwork) is again the artist chosen for the cover art concept, with the nine knights (clearly inspired by the Nazgûl, from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) representing all the heaviness and obscurity present in the music by Dormanth.

Oscar and Javi begin their Black Metal-riffage onrush in the opening track Human Claim, a pounding funeral march that tells us all darkness is about to take over our minds in a dense and potent hybrid of Doom and Death Metal with melodic influences. After such strong start, the strident sound of guitars keeps permeating the air in another atmospheric and melodic composition titled Lamb Or Wolf, with the band’s guitar duo accelerating their riffs until all hell breaks loose. Moreover, the vocals by Oscar get more putrid and devilish as the music progresses, while Victor becomes the band’s driving force with his potent beats. And in Let See The Wood, we’re treated to a frantic and furious Death Metal extravaganza with Thrash Metal and Hardcore influences where Victor and Miguel simply demolish their instruments. Hence, the nonstop violence contained in this gripping tune will certainly set the crowd on fire during their live performances.

Slowing things down considerably and venturing through the realms of modern Doom Metal, the band offers the listener Like Ice, keeping a solid pace and providing Oscar exactly what he needs to fire his deep, enraged growls; followed by Promised Land, where Dormanth get back to a more piercing mix of Death and Black Metal. During its almost five minutes, Victor delivers from blast beats to rhythmic, galloping moments, while the band’s guitarists keep the sound cohesive and gripping with their riffs and solos. And the sixth “sin” of the album, entitled Soul Shall Die, once again leans towards more old school, sluggish Doom Metal, with Oscar growls being in perfect sync with Victor’s steady beats.

Misery is a potent, galloping tune with tons of shredding and demented beats and fills, showcasing an almost-Black Metal sound mixed with old school Death Metal and, as a consequence, reminding me of some of the creations by Swedish masters Unleashed; whereas The Skin, the second to last display of blackened sounds by Dormanth, begins with an old school guitar solo before all instruments explode, generating a menacing atmosphere, while its second half is a feast of shredding and blast beats intertwined with an eerie female voice. And closing this obscure album we have another threatening tune named Sands Of Frozen Tears, yet again displaying the band’s solid instrumental and Oscar’s deep growls, albeit not as vibrant as the rest of the album.

The dark and sinister realm of Dormanth can be better explored by visiting their Facebook page, and if you want to put your hands on IX Sins simply go to the band’s BandCamp page, to the Necromance Records’ Big Cartel or webshop, to the Dead Sheep Productions’ webshop, or to Discogs. Dormanth are also beyond ready to hit the road and bring to the stage the same energy and darkness flowing from their music, with the only difference being that their live lineup has studio bassist Miguel on the lead guitar (instead of bass), Isma Fernandez on bass, and original member Javi Martinez on drums, but of course still spearheaded by Oscar on vocals and guitar. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t really matter if you prefer staying home to listen to their studio version of the songs or if seeing them live is what really excites you, as long as you succumb to their captivating fusion of Death and Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: Lamb Or Wolf, Let See The Wood and Misery.

Worst moments of the album: Sands Of Frozen Tears.

Released in 2018 Necromance Records/Base Record Production/Dead Sheep Productions

Track listing  
1. Human Claim 4:02
2. Lamb Or Wolf 4:29
3. Let See The Wood 4:46
4. Like Ice 4:38
5. Promised Land 4:55
6. Soul Shall Die 4:08
7. Misery 4:26
8. The Skin 4:32
9. Sands Of Frozen Tears 5:02

Band members
Oscar del Val – vocals, guitar
Javi Prieto – lead guitar
Miguel A. Richart – bass
Victor Franquelo – drums

Live members
Oscar del Val – vocals, guitar
Miguel A. Richart – lead guitar
Isma Fernandez – bass
Javi Martinez – drums