Album Review – Madness Of Sorrow / N.W.O. The Beginning (2017)

Depicting the corrupt and sick system in which humanity is living, the new album by this Italian duo of Gothic and Horror Metal will certainly entertain you with its high dosage of acidness, energy and creativity.

Although the ceaseless danger of the emergence of a totalitarian world government (the conspiracy theory known as the New World Order) might incite fear in our hearts, it also fuels the creativity from artists all over the world, including Italian Gothic/Horror Metal band Madness Of Sorrow with their brand new release, titled N.W.O. The Beginning, the fourth studio album in their career. Depicting the corrupt and sick system in which humanity is living, focusing specifically on corporations, sex and serial killers, and featuring a dark and acid artwork by Italian artist Graziano Roccatani, N.W.O. The Beginning will take you on a journey through the shadows of our decaying world, showcasing how exciting heavy music can be when powered by controversial and disturbing topics.

Formed in March 2011 by multi-instrumentalist Murihell (aka Muriel Saracino) from the ashes of Italian Gothic Metal/Hard Rock group Filthy Teens in the region of Pisa and Livorno, in Tuscany (but currently located in Val d’Aosta, a region of northwest Italy bordered by France and Switzerland), Madness Of Sorrow are constantly delivering high-quality music for fans of Gothic and Horror Metal, starting with their debut album Signs in 2011, which by the way led them to play in 2012 in Milan with Italian Gothic Metal icons Cadaveria, followed by Take the Children Away from the Priest in 2013 and more recently III: The Beast in 2015. The project takes now one step further with N.W.O. The Beginning, their first album featuring new singer Prophet (aka Diego Carnazzola), widening their music horizons and venturing on new sounds unexplored by the band in their previous releases.

The intro N.W.O. welcomes the listener with an eerie voice talking about the aforementioned conspiracy theory, working as a warm-up for Salomon, where Prophet blasts powerful growls as well as dark, clean vocals while Murihell delivers a Gothic, industrial and obscure musicality, blending the styles by Mercyful Fate and Ministry (which translates into pure wickedness, of course), followed by the excellent Inside the Church, a song that should sound fantastic when played live, bringing elements from Thrash and Death Metal in its riffs and beats, not to mention its awesome accelerated pace and catchy lyrics and chorus. And despite almost sounding as a ballad, You’re Not Alone also presents the darkened elements commonly found in the music by Madness Of Sorrow, being a very good example of a song by an extreme band that could be played in any radio station, with highlights to the top-notch clean vocals by Prophet.

Speeding things up again, the duo offers a fast-paced and aggressive tune drinking from the fountains of Thrash and Gothic Metal entitled Necrophilia, with the slashing guitar lines by Murihell together with Prophet’s demented screams being all that’s needed to ignite some fun mosh pits during their live concerts. More modern and Gothic than all previous songs, Slut brings forward lyrics that are extremely porn and nasty, in line with what the music proposes, but that for obvious reasons cannot be played on any radio station; whereas R.I.P. is a song where Murihell showcases all his talent and passion for metal, sounding more melodic, rhythmic and leaning towards more traditional Heavy Metal, with even some hints of Symphonic Metal coming from its background keyboards. In Zombified, smooth but dark keys and low-tuned bass lines build a demonic ambience perfect for Prophet to darkly declaim the song’s wicked lyrics in a solid display of contemporary Gothic Metal for fans of the genre.

Keep Your Head Down, an interesting composition by this skillful duo from Italy, offers more of their Gothic and Symphonic Metal, albeit being slightly repetitive in my opinion (in special its chorus), whereas in DNA what feels like Gothic Metal at first becomes a vicious display of Dark and Industrial Metal with elements from Thrash Metal, proving how versatile the duo is. Moreover, Murihell does an amazing job on drums and guitars, paving the path for Prophet and his raging vocals to thrive. And with a Down with the Sickness-inspired beginning, but bringing forward elements from Melodic Death Metal in its guitars and beats, the awesome S.O.S displays a rockin’ rhythm and effective breaks throughout its three minutes to keep the sound always fresh and vibrant, therefore turning it into one of the best songs of the album (if not the best), flowing into a tribal Outro that also presents the band’s trademark obscure sounding.

In summary, the New World Order might fortunately be just a theory (at least for now), but Madness Of Sorrow are an exciting reality and the music you’ll find in their new album is highly recommended for facing our everyday issues and struggles due to its elevated amount of energy and creativity. You can find more information about them at their official Facebook page, and enjoy their music on YouTube as well as on Spotify. And in order to grab your copy of N.W.O. The Beginning, simply go to iTunes or to Amazon. But hurry up, before the New World Order is finally born and comes to destroy our freedom, our music and arts in general.

Best moments of the album: Inside the Church, You’re Not Alone and S.O.S.

Worst moments of the album: Keep Your Head Down.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. N.W.O. 0:35
2. Salomon 3:26
3. Inside the Church 3:36
4. You’re Not Alone 3:21
5. Necrophilia 3:26
6. Slut 3:23
7. R.I.P. 3:26
8. Zombified 3:37
9. Keep Your Head Down 4:26
10. DNA 3:46
11. S.O.S 3:11
12. Outro 1:26

Band members
Prophet – vocals
Murihell – guitars, bass, drums

Live lineup
Prophet – vocals
Murihell – guitars
Hades – bass
Kronork – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Morgan Lacroix

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In your nightmares you will find me… In this twilight you will taste my embrace…

Whenever a female performer is selected to be the Metal Chick of the Month here at The Headbanging Moose, she’s not chosen only because of her skills as a musician, but mainly due to her significant contribution to the development of women in the world of heavy music. Having said that, it couldn’t be different this month with our metallic diva, the darkling Italian succubus Morgan Lacroix (or MorgaN LacroiX), the sexy frontwoman, lyricist, composer, producer and (why not?) lady vampire of Italian Gothic/Dark/Industrial Metal band Mandragora Scream (also spelled MandragorA ScreaM). Are you ready for a journey through the dark realms of vampirism with our enigmatic modern-day medusa?

It was more than obvious that I wouldn’t be able to find anything about Morgan’s age, place of birth or music background. We’re talking about a vampire, creatures that, above all things, must remain in the shadows and keep their lives as secret as possible. Well, as Mandragora Scream is a band from the comune of Lucca, located on the Serchio river in Italy’s Tuscany region and famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls, let’s assume she was also born in that same city. Whatever she did between being born and founding Mandragora Scream is something yet to be revealed by Morgan Lacroix herself, which means the focus will be solely on her career with the band.

Although Mandragora Scream were formed back in 1997 by Morgan, it was only in 1999 that the band released its debut self-titled demo containing four songs. Then in 2000 Morgan was introduced to Italian singer, guitarist and composer Terry Horn, and that artistic union resulted in their first full-length album, entitled Fairy Tales from Hell’s Caves, released in the year of 2001. According to the band, “Fairy Tales is definitely a concept album: a trip throughout the Dantean Hell, tormented by passion, anguish and insanity, where the character of Virgil is surprisingly replaced by an unusual bewitching vampire fairy.”

After that amazing debut, the band released the albums A Whisper of Dew (2003), Madhouse (2006), Volturna (2009) and Luciferland (2012), as well as the singles Jeanne d’Arc (2007) and From the Heart (2010), and a DVD named Dragonfly (2008), always providing us the lustful voice of our diva of darkness and also her own devilish touch to all lyrics, cover artwork, mixing, mastering, production and booklets. In addition, from those releases, A Whisper of Dew is also a concept album, centered on a vampire story purposely written for the band by Julio Angel Olivares Merino, horror-gothic literature writer and teacher of English Philosophy at the Spanish University of Jaén. Drawing inspiration from this tale, Lacroix composed the entire album lyrics. Also, in regards to their latest album Luciferland, there’s an interesting and extensive three-part interview on YouTube where both Morgan and Terry discuss about the album with Metal Hammer, which can be seen HERE, HERE and HERE.

Mandragora Scream are also featured on the international compilations Beauty in the Darkness Vol. 5 (2001), Mystic Art (2001), Nuclear Blast Vol. 6 (2001), Off Road Tracks Vol. 45 (2003) and Beautiful Voices (2005), toured with renowned dark bands Christian Death and The 69 Eyes in 2010 and with British Extreme Metal masters Cradle of Filth in 2011, and were the special guests in the 2010 edition of the Fantasy Horror Award. There are numerous videos on YouTube (and other platforms) where you can relish Morgan’s alluring vocals, sensuous moves and bewitching performance, as for instance in the songs A Vision They Shared, Blight Thrills, Medusa, Blindness, Breaking Dawn, Silent Lullabies, Bloody Ballade, the whimsical The Chant of Furies, and her awesome cover version for Cher’s Bang Bang, among others. Besides her work with Mandragora Scream, you can find Madame Lacroix lending her voice to the bonus song Watch Me Crawl Behind, from the 2012 album Happy Deathday by Greek Gothic Metal band SadDolls, and to the song The Promise, from the 2004 album Follow Me by Italian Power Metal band Wonderland.

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When asked in 2001 to provide more details about the history of Mandragora Scream, her explanation was beyond eccentric. In her own words, “The history of the name Mandragora Scream goes back to the medieval period. At that time witches used a root to make love and death potions called ‘Mandragora’.This root with man-shape was generated by the ejaculations of a hanged man and it needed to be pulled out from the earth with particular magic rites during full moon nights. When extracting the root from earth, witches had to be very careful not to break the arms or legs of the root, otherwise it would have screamed so loud to bring witches to death.” Interesting, isn’t it?

In regards to her unique style, our vampire queen mentioned her lyrics and the atmosphere found in her music reflect her soul, her life and her personality, preserving that way her own musical identity. Furthermore, Morgan grew up with fairy tales, in which she truly believes, feeling and living her own life like a fairy tale. In one of her old interviews, Morgan mentioned she wrote a book (probably in 2000) that is a fairy tale for her angels in the form of decadent poetry called “The Ballad Of The Angels”, but yet again I couldn’t find anything online about that book. It should be a very interesting and unusual reading, if that has ever been published, of course.

Another remarkable fact about her personal life is that she doesn’t actually feel Italian as her ancient blood is Transylvanian, and because of that she is fascinated with Dante’s La Divina Comedia (The Divine Comedy), considering it a masterpiece (who doesn’t?) as it deals with the dead and eternal pain.  And to make things even more complex, Morgan also loves the Scandinavian culture and is attracted to Vikings. Add to that her lovely obsession for fairy tales, and there you have one of the most distinctive and diverse fusion of topics you can think of.

Her favorite albums of all time are a classy mix of progressiveness, passion and liveliness, and do not expect to find anything too Gothic, modern or ghoulish on her list, as it includes Blackmore’s Night’s best album to date Shadow of the Moon, Dream Theater’s classic album Metropolis, Pink Floyd’s masterpiece The Dark Side of the Moon, King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon, Yes’ Close to the Edge and Genesis’ Nursery Crime. In addition to that, she’s also a huge admirer of Queensrÿche and obviously of the vocals by Geoff Tate, especially the song Someone Else?, which she used to listen to when she started singing.

At long last, are you curious to know what the meaning of life and death is to our goddess of Dark Metal? Morgan firmly believes in reincarnation, which means life for her is a long path we are following and while we walk along this path we have to learn lessons, sometimes highly spiritual lessons. She completes her train of thought by saying that we always have to give our souls a chance to fly a little higher, closer to the divine, and that we could probably say that death is a little like “changing skin”. In my opinion, this is a stunning concept by an even more stunning diva of heavy music.

Morgan Lacroix’s Official Facebook page
Morgan Lacroix’s Official Twitter
Mandragora Scream’s Official Facebook page
Mandragora Scream’s Official Twitter

“Try and wake up the valiant warrior sleeping within you, he may have fallen asleep in one of your previous lives. And, first and foremost, don’t let your flesh be just food for worms.  Let there be someone with your blood after you, in this way you’ll be able to prove you did not live in vain and your image will be reflected by your heirs as if in a mirror.” – Morgan Lacroix