Album Review – Ocram / Nasu EP (2017)

A musical work deeply influenced by some elements of Zoroastrianism mixing classical Black Metal with a touch of Middle East, bred by a talented and restless one-man army from Spain.

Zoroastrianism, or more natively Mazdayasna, is one of the world’s oldest extant religions, combining a cosmogonic dualism and eschatological monotheism in a manner unique among the major religions of the world. Major features of Zoroastrianism, such as messianism, heaven and hell, and free will have influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam. Having said that, it was quite obvious that Zoroastrianism would also be found in extreme music due to its strong connection with religious topics, with several Black Metal artists being inspired by such distinct religion, like Spanish Black Metal one-man army Ocram.

Hailing from Málaga, a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, located in Andalusia, Ocram is a one-man Black Metal band created in 2012 by multi-instrumentalist Ocram, who has already been featured at The Headbanging Moose with the insanely good 2015 album Exterminans IX:XI, by his other band Tsar Bomb. After the release of an EP titled Praeludium, in 2013, Ocram is back with a brand new EP named Nasu, the Avestan name of the female Zoroastrian demon (daeva) of corpse matter, also used as a general term for that which is false, immoral, impure or unclean. Featuring a darkly esoteric artwork by Victoria S. Mann (La Luna en un Hilo – Illustration & Handicraft), Nasu is a musical work deeply influenced by some elements of Zoroastrianism that mixes classical Black Metal with a touch of Middle East and a few clean chorus, and overall a lot of epic and melodic riffs, thoroughly spread throughout the album’s sixteen minutes of music.

The fire burns to the eerie sounds generated by Ocram in the arcane instrumental intro The Fire Worshipper, building the desired atmosphere for the darkened feast that’s about to come, titled The Bringer of the Unholy Flame, showcasing heavy riffs, a steady and brutal drumming, and the devilish gnarls by Ocram in an amazing display of high-end Black Metal, not to mention the song’s occult lyrics (“Enlighten my path, / Liberate my aged flesh, / Nourish my soul, / Spread your seed in the humanity. / Conceived by the entrails of the universe, /The bringer of the unholy flame.”), which you can definitely feel penetrating deep into your soul.

The second full-bodied song of the EP, The Tower of Silence,  features female choirs by guest vocalist Echo and disturbing lyrics (“The four eyes of the beast are looking at me, / The fire doesn’t warm up my body, / The bearers of the dead come for me, / The hands of the Druj are on my head.”), with Ocram accelerating the rhythm to a more demonic pace. In a nutshell, it’s old school Black Metal with hints of Death Metal and a huge amount of transcendental sounds, with the inclusion of some sluggish, heavy breaks that end up bringing more malignancy to the overall result of this obscure aria, flowing to a climatic and mesmerizing ending. And the outro The Nassesalars couldn’t sound more mysterious, presenting some background noises that will certainly disturb your mind.

Nasu is available for a comprehensive experience on YouTube, and if you like what Ocram has to offer you with his new EP I recommend you start following him on Facebook and also on YouTube to be up to speed with all news about his solo project, about Tsar Bomb and his other bands like Trees, Clouds & Silence. And let’s be honest, such talented musician deserves our utmost recognition for keeping the flame of underground metal alive and kicking with his creativity and passion for extreme music. Hence, you can show your true support to Ocram by purchasing Nasu through his BandCamp page, an album that not only brings to you some top-notch Black Metal, but that might also expand your religious horizons.

Best moments of the album: The Bringer of the Unholy Flame.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Fire Worshipper 2:49
2. The Bringer of the Unholy Flame 4:55
3. The Tower of Silence 7:17
4. The Nassesalars 0:58

Band members
Ocram – vocals, guitars, bass, drum programming

Guest musician
Echo – female choirs on “The Tower of Silence”

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The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

Album Review – Tsar Bomb / Exterminans IX:XI (2015)

…and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the ungodly Blackened Death Metal cast by a demonic duo from Spain.

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CD100_outTsar Bomb, or “Царь-бомба” in Russian, might be commonly known as the nickname for the AN602 hydrogen bomb developed by the Soviet Union, the most powerful man-made nuclear weapon ever detonated, but for the past few years it has also become a synonym to the cataclysmic music by Spanish Blackened Death Metal band Tsar Bomb. The force of impact of their compositions is immeasurable, crushing your soul inhumanely, but at the same time leaving you avid for more destruction and chaos after their extreme music raid ceases.

After the release of their debut album Neowarfare in 2012, this Málaga-based hellish duo is ready to scathe our society again with their brand new record, entitled Exterminans IX:XI, an album fundamentally inspired by the Book of Revelation, with even the writing of its lyrics being attributed to some sort of “help” by St. John the Apostle. Moreover, Tsar Bomb managed to merge in a very technical and aggressive way the esoteric side of the biblical scriptures with their belligerent and occultist vision of the world, offering the listener a wide spectrum of blasphemy, havoc and desperation.

Exterminans IX:XI begins with a nightmare-ish Intro where the smooth piano notes by guest musician Carmen Robles Jimenez bring some peace to our hearts amidst the song’s sheer ravage, before Ad Maiorem Legio Gloriam (“the greater glory of law”) comes bursting a brutal onslaught of Black, Death and Blackened Death Metal for our total delight. In addition, the band’s intricate instrumental artillery provides lead singer Ocram the perfect environment for his demonic growls, and although all drums are programmed, the music sounds very organic and alive at all times, which will make you simply forget about that minor detail.

The title-track, Exterminans IX:XI, is more than “just” a song about Abaddon, also known as the Destroyer or the Angel of the Abyss as portrayed in the Holy Bible (Revelation 9:11), it’s an even more vicious and intense tune, where six-string master Ivan does a superb job with his piercing guitar riffs enhancing its dark atmosphere and apocalyptic vibe; followed by Septem Tonitrua (“seven thunders”), an expression that also appears in the Holy Bible (Revelation 10:4), and obviously in the song’s lyrics (“Seven thunders burst, the angel has spoken / Under the oath, resounding horns / The Book of Initiation devoured by Leviathan / Inexorable storm, storm of ashes and fire.”). Their barbaric demolition goes on with another feast of blast beats, complex guitar lines and harsh growls boosted by some special voice effects similar to what Dimmu Borgir and other extreme bands usually do. Put differently, this killing tune will auspiciously dilacerate your mind before reaching its climatic and desolate ending.

In Armada (Mari Bestiam), which refers to the Spanish Armada of 1588, Tsar Bomb translated the monstrous power of the armada into a dark and robust tune, with highlights to the hints of progressiveness and modernity added to this technical Extreme Metal composition by Ocram and Ivan; while Caustic Blessing is a high-speed violent chant where yet again drums do not feel like they’re programmed at all. Can a human drummer replicate this sonority live? Anyway, this is a very good example of how amazing the band sounds no matter if they add symphonic or progressive elements to their music or if they’re as raw and direct as possible like in this case.

TSAR BOMB band photo (1)In the excellent …And Spill thy Fire Upon the Earth, prepare your neck for a lot of pain from headbanging because Tsar Bomb sound like a wild beast attacking you directly in the jugular, offering a multi-layered infernal Black Metal exhibit where vocals by Ocram get even more diabolical and in sync with its scalding lyrics (“The reign of chaos spits its fire / With hall and blood scorching the life / With flaming soil the waters died / And Spill Thy Fire Upon The Earth!!”). And finally, Mikaheylel reminds me a lot of the sonority found in The Satanist, by Behemoth, especially the blasphemous aura surrounding the music. You can feel hatred and despair emanating from its riffs, which ends up being frightful but mesmerizing at the same time, reinforcing this extremely well-crafted chant that perfectly represents what Blackened Death Metal is all about. There’s still time for a disturbing Outro to close this marvelous album, with the piano by Carmen returning in a very melancholic pattern, turning it into the soundtrack to a desolated war field after the detonation of a deadly nuclear weapon.

In case the sonic detonation ignited by Tsar Bomb helped release your inner demons, you can find more about their work on their official Facebook page and SoundCloud, and also find Exterminans IX:XI for sale at their BandCamp page or at the Cimmerian Shade Recordings’ BandCamp page. There’s an interesting excerpt from the Bible, Revelation 9:2, which states that “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” Replace the smoke of the pit with the disturbing Blackened Death Metal by Tsar Bomb, and there you have a suitable depiction of how vile this Spanish duo can be.

Best moments of the album: Ad Maiorem Legio Gloriam, Exterminans IX:XI, Armada (Mari Bestiam) and Mikaheylel.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Cimmerian Shade Recordings

Track listing
1. Intro 3:01
2. Ad Maiorem Legio Gloriam 5:13
3. Exterminans IX:XI 4:58
4. Septem Tonitrua 6:19
5. Armada (Mari Bestiam) 5:01
6. Caustic Blessing 3:07
7. …And Spill thy Fire Upon the Earth 4:14
8. Mikaheylel 5:43
9. Outro 2:58

Band members
Ocram – vocals, drum programming
Ivan – guitars, bass, drum programming

Guest musician
Carmen Robles Jimenez – synth, piano