Album Review – Cradle of Filth / Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (2017)

UK’s most visionary and hellish outfit returns with another blast of malignancy and eroticism in the form of the twelfth studio album in their undisputed career.

After their 2015 majestic and imposing album Hammer Of The Witches, British Extreme Metal institution Cradle of Filth had the arduous task of maintaining such high level of malignancy, electricity and eroticism in their brand new opus, stylishly titled Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, the twelfth studio album in their undisputed career. Despite not being as fantastic and cohesive as its predecessor, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay still brings forward the classic sound by Cradle of Filth we all learned to love through the years, solidifying even more their already distinguished reputation among fans of extreme music.

The band’s iconic mastermind and vocalist Dani Filth said the album “is deeply infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that.’Cryptoriana’ implies the Victorians’ infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the ghoulish. And the subtitle, ‘The Seductiveness of Decay’, further cements this attraction to death and the glittering lengthy process of self-annihilation”. In addition to that, one very interesting fact about Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is that this is their second album in a row with the exact same lineup, which for an ever-changing band like Cradle of Filth is a huge milestone. The artwork was also created by the same artist from Hammer Of The Witches, Latvian designer Arthur Berzinsh, and form that you can have a very good idea of how similar both albums are visually and musically speaking, although as aforementioned the band had an almost impossible mission to surpass Hammer Of The Witches in regards to its exceptional quality.

Exquisite Torments Await can be considered a 2-minute “expanded” intro, showcasing demented and dark noises together with the band’s characteristic melody and potency, already bringing forward their usual blast beats and devilish orchestrations. Well, Dani’s first high-pitched scream says it all. The following tune, the first single of the album titled Heartbreak and Séance, kicks off at full speed with the gentle but powerful guitars by both Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda bringing balance to the havoc led by the flammable Dani and the insanely talented drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka. In other words, it’s classic and modern Cradle of Filth united in a solid and exciting manner (and don’t forget to check the uncensored version for its official video, it’s definitely worth it). And in Achingly Beautiful, an esoteric beginning quickly explodes into Cradle of Filth’s unique Black Metal, feeling like two or three songs in one due to its complexity and all breaks and variations, with the keyboards by Canadian beauty Lindsay Schoolcraft generating an amazing vibe in the background, not to mention her always pleasant backing vocals.

The main riff in Wester Vespertine reminds me of some of the guitar lines from their 1998 cult album Cruelty and the Beast, more specifically from the classic “Thirteen Autumns and a Widow”, proving Dani knows how to blend the past, present and future of his band in a very cohesive manner. Moreover, Marthus continues his sonic onrush with his potent and unstoppable beats and fills, enhancing the song’s potency considerably. Then it’s time for Richard and Ashok to lead the epic intro in The Seductiveness of Decay, before the band speeds up the pace delivering a neck-breaking, smashing tune tailored for both old school fans and newcomers to the world of Cradle of Filth. Dani has an absolutely flammable performance with his demonic growls and screeches, with the music becoming a symphonic devastation halfway through it with highlights to the awesome solos by Richard and Ashok. And featuring Liv Kristine as a guest vocalist (turning it into some sort of “beauty and the beast” duo with Dani), Vengeful Spirit maintains the album at a high level of seductiveness, vileness and darkness, with Marthus being totally diabolical on drums whereas Lindsay continues to deliver delicate and whimsical key notes to bring more balance to the music.

Despite bringing the trademark wicked lyrics by Dani (“Purring the sweet tempered soughing / Of lucrative Savannah wind / Stirs the great flotsam of clouds that are vowing / To usher the evening in / Affecting the set of the reckoning sun / From burnished gold to crimson hue / Before this night is quite sorely undone / The Devil is coming for you”), You Will Know the Lion by His Claw doesn’t sound as inspired as the rest of the album, presenting generic guitar lines and no gripping moments at all; whereas a beyond imposing beginning, full of symphonic elements, opens the gates of hell for Dani and his bandmates to blast the mysterious and funereal tune Death and the Maiden. Furthermore, a somber shadow remains above the band from start to finish, with Dani spearheading the musicality with his satanic growls, while Marthus and Lindsay craft a truly powerful atmosphere with their respective beats and keys until the song’s hellish finale.

And if I were you I would certainly go for the special edition of the album, which contains two amazing bonus tracks that are worth your additional investment. The first one, named The Night at Catafalque Manor, brings more of Cradle of Filth’s renowned Symphonic Black Metal, with highlights to its amazing orchestrations and the rumbling bass lines by Daniel Firth. Then closing the limited edition we have a flawless cover version for Annihilator’s biggest classic Alison Hell (if you’re from another planet and has never listened to the original version, you can take a shot at it HERE), from their 1989 cult album Alice in Hell. This is indeed a superb tribute to this Canadian institute, and Dani simply nailed it like what he did in the past with other all-time metal hits like Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, Slayer’s “Hell Awaits” and Venom’s “Black Metal”.

Dani and his Cradle of Filth still have a lot of fire to burn in their career, and Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is a strong statement that they’re still relevant to the world of heavy music, being capable of producing excellent material year after year. Simply visit Nuclear Blast’s official webstore to pick your version of the brand new album by UK’s most visionary and hellish outfit in the history of extreme music, and be more than prepared for when Dani and his devilish horde take your city by storm with their live performances (if they haven’t done so yet).

Best moments of the album: Heartbreak and Séance, The Seductiveness of Decay and Alison Hell.

Worst moments of the album: You Will Know the Lion by His Claw.

Released in 2017 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Exquisite Torments Await 2:15
2. Heartbreak and Séance 6:24
3. Achingly Beautiful 7:02
4. Wester Vespertine 7:24
5. The Seductiveness of Decay 7:38
6. Vengeful Spirit (feat. Liv Kristine) 6:00
7. You Will Know the Lion by His Claw 7:22
8. Death and the Maiden 8:48

Limited Edition Digipak/Vinyl bonus tracks
9. The Night at Catafalque Manor 7:31
10. Alison Hell (Annihilator cover) 5:01

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Guest musician
Liv Kristine – female vocals on “Vengeful Spirit”

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

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

OPENING ACT: Cadillac Blood

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

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

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

BLAZE BAYLEY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 07/15/2017)

On a pleasant summer day in the city of Toronto, over 18,000 metalheads had a beautiful time screaming, singing, jumping up and down, raising their horns and “climbing like a monkey” to the flammable music by the unparalleled Iron Maiden.

OPENING ACT: Ghost

As opposed to last year’s Iron Maiden concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, when it was freaking cold and a snow blizzard covered the city and made driving a true nightmare, this Saturday the weather couldn’t be more perfect, with a temperature close to 30 degrees in a sunny day, resulting in another memorable night for all Maidenmaniacs that attended the concert at the always amazing Budweiser Stage (which used to be called Molson Canadian Amphitheatre). You could see in the eyes of the fans that everyone was in a great mood, probably because they spent the whole day getting ready for the concert, drinking beer, enjoying a nice BBQ or simply listening to Iron Maiden while getting tanned by the nice afternoon sun. And besides, everyone would have the whole Sunday to recover before returning to work on Monday (unless you were also seeing Metallica on Sunday, but that’s a different story).

It was around 7:30pm when the opening act hit the stage, Heavy Metal blue-eyed boys GHOST, who for some reason are deeply loved by most musicians, but not as much by fans of metal music. Even Metallica’s James Hetfield himself was at the venue watching the performance by Papa Emeritus III (also known as Tobias Forge) and his nameless ghouls. Anyway, this was my second time seeing Ghost, once again opening for Iron Maiden as in 2014 in the Czech Republic, and this time was way better than the first, I must admit. Papa Emeritus III was more dynamic on stage, more communicative and less “stuck” to the pope gimmick. A considerable amount of fans that were at the venue enjoyed their performance, singing together with the band songs like Ritual, Year Zero and Absolution, and as their performance wasn’t too long I guess not even the most diehard fan of Iron Maiden got bored with Ghost.

Setlist
Masked Ball (Jocelyn Pook song)
Square Hammer
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Ritual
Cirice
Year Zero
Absolution
Mummy Dust
Monstrance Clock

Band members
Papa Emeritus III (Tobias Forge) – vocals
Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists:

  • Fire – lead guitarist
  • Ether – rhythm guitarist
  • Water – bassist
  • Wind – keyboardist
  • Earth – drummer

IRON MAIDEN

Finally, after over one year (and another cold winter), it was time for Toronto to scream one more time for the one and only IRON MAIDEN, this time during their The Book Of Souls World Tour 2017, the second leg of their majestic tour promoting their 2015 masterpiece The Book Of Souls. The setlist was pretty much the same as last time, except for Tears of a Clown being replaced with The Great Unknown, and the saddest change of all time, Hallowed Be Thy Name being replaced with Wrathchild due to a legal dispute with retired rock band manager Barry McKay, who is taking Steve Harris and Dave Murray to court over the song. Barry claims Hallowed Be Thy Name reproduces major parts of a song titled “Lying in my Shadow”, written by musician Brian Quinn (under the name Brian Ingham), and because of that Iron Maiden couldn’t play one of their most beautiful and powerful classics during their 2017 tour.

That didn’t stop Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris & Co. to kick ass one more time on stage for the delight of over 18,000 metalheads at the Budweiser Stage, blasting as usual a well-balanced mix of old school songs and newer compositions. Fans were already pumped up during the classic “Doctor Doctor” intro, exploding into sheer ecstasy when Bruce appeared at the top of the band’s Mayan-inspired stage to ignite their “ritual” with the initial spoken words of their new classic If Eternity Should Fail. After that it was an avalanche of hits played to perfection with Bruce interacting with the crowd all the time, while Steve was unstoppable with his galloping bass and Janick seemed as if he was high on something so electric his performance was. And I guess I don’t need to say how awesome Adrian, Dave and Nicko were with their instruments, right? There was only one minor issue with Bruceç mic, which kept failing a little once in a while, but nothing that could harm such sensational concert.

In my humble opinion, the best sequence of the night started with the classic Children of the Damned, where Bruce gave his already traditional speech about most of the fans not being born when the song was written and, for the ones born in 83 or 84, they might be the true “children of the damned”, conceived when the song was written in 82 (as Bruce mentioned, your parents had sex at least once in their lives!). After such stylish composition, the band invited all of us to fly with them and “fight” the Red Baron in the high-octane Death or Glory, with Bruce and his monkey mask enticing us to “climb like a monkey”, a fun move he started last year that became sort of mandatory every time they play this song. And the stunning sequel went on with the 13-minute hymn The Red and the Black, with all fans jumping up and down and singing the “Oh-oh oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh oh-oh-oh!” parts along with Bruce, followed by one of my top Maiden songs of all time, The Trooper, where guess what? It was time to burst our lungs again screaming the song’s famous “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!” together with the band. And closing their killer sequel, the imposing Powerslave, which almost made me blind with its initial flames as I was quite close to the stage.

The newer songs like The Great Unknown and the epic The Book of Souls (where Eddie had his heart “ripped out” by Bruce) kept their momentum going, making everyone even more excited for their final batch of unparalleled classics such as Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast (with the stage fires making us literally burn), and Wasted Years. However, it was their 2000 creation Blood Brothers that really stole the show, with all fans signing its heartening lyrics together with the band, after Bruce’s inspiring intro where he spoke about how diverse and welcoming the city of Toronto is, and how there shouldn’t be no differences among us all, as we’re all blood brothers. What a brilliant performance of such amazing tune, I have to say! One of the best I’ve seen live together with the one from Rock In Rio III in 2001. As Bruce said close to the end of the show, Iron Maiden are far from being done, and they’ll return to Toronto with more of their unmatched metal music in a not-so-distant future. Needless to say, all 18,000 fans at the concert Saturday are more than eager for that without a shadow of a doubt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hot and sunny day like this Saturday or if it’s in the middle of a cold winter, we all know that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Wrathchild
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
Facebook
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Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden
Streamitter.com

Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Lunatic Hooker / Embracing The Filth (2017)

Be embraced by the filthy and crushing Grindcore with a Sludge Metal twist crafted by five British musicians who got together to reignite their inner fire and passion for extreme music.

The music business can be spirit crushing and soul destroying, where bands that start as groups of friends with a passion for music can end up disillusioned, with the flames of their passion near extinguished. This happened to British musicians George (vocals), Ross (guitar), Tim (guitar), Duncan (bass, vocals) and Rafael (drums) in their respective bands, but rather than let those last flickering embers burn out for good, they got together to reignite the fire, forging in 2014 a new evil entity that goes by the name of Lunatic Hooker, blasting a roaring fusion of Grindcore and Sludge Metal perfect for nonstop slamming and headbanging.

After the release of a two-track demo in 2015 and a single with their cover version for Motörhead’s all-time classic (We Are) The Road Crew in 2016, this London-based squad is unleashing upon humanity their debut full-length opus, titled Embracing The Filth. Featuring twelve tracks of unrelenting, punishing and pulverizing Extreme Metal, all enfolded by a captivating artwork by Dan Capp (Winterfylleth) and crackling with that irresistible rediscovered electricity, Embracing The Filth is one of those albums you might not know what you’re dealing with at first, but that you’ll get addicted to as soon as you hit play and let its piercing sounds invade your ears.

Rafael and his doomed beats ignite the sludgy party named My God Is Bigger than Yours (what a clever name for a song), before chaos reigns through the putrid gnarls by George and the dirty and fast riffage by Ross and Tim. Once again uniting Grindcore with Sludge Metal, demonic sounds emanate from all instruments in Beard Feared, in special the blast beats by Rafael and the devilish growling by George, with its brutal slamming rhythm drawing influences from Slayer, Napalm Death and other devastating groups; followed by The Pen Is Mightier than the Sword, another song with a very intelligent name that also presents crushing riffs and beats while George sounds more demonic than ever (and let me say that, if you survive the intense circle pit this song can generate, you’re pretty much immortal), and Unearthed Dead Children, a sonic onslaught of Grindcore bursting heaviness through the cavernous growls by George and Rafael’s ruthless drumming.

The title-track Embracing the Filth lives up to its name, being a dirty, crude and absolutely vile composition of darkness. Moreover, it feels like the guitars by Ross and Tim are an extension of George’s sick vocals, consequently enhancing the song’s overall impact, with Rafael once again showing no mercy for his drum set. In Blood Eagle we face an eerie start that lasts for almost half of the song before the band gets back to their sick high-speed musicality, with its guitars and drums exhaling sheer Grindcore, whereas Fucks All brings elements from Hardcore and Thrash Metal to their already aggressive sonority. Tim and Ross keep firing some sick dirty riffs to make the whole song more demonic, also presenting Black and Death Metal blast beats thanks to the unwearying Rafael. And the excellent Cult Chaos begins at full speed, reminding me of some of the most visceral creations by Cannibal Corpse, with all instruments sounding extremely sharp from start to finish. Hence, this slamming composition should work really well during their live performances.

In Transformation Walrus, a song inspired by and featuring footage in its official video from Kevin Smith’s 2014 film Tusk, darkness takes control of the band from the very first second, with George leading his crew with his deranged growls, before See the Light, perhaps the most violent of all tracks, showcases deeper guttural vocals by George and the merciless drums by Rafael highly influenced by old school Death Metal. In other words, Lunatic Hooker offer us two and a half minutes of pure brutality, with some harmonious guitar lines and solos to give more balance to the overall result. There are two more songs to go in this demonic opus, starting with Spain in the Neck, another recommended soundtrack for a sick mosh pit where Ross and Tim sound like two beasts with their flammable strings, while Rafael keeps the adrenaline high with his unstoppable beats. And finally, the closing of their awesome casket comes in the form of a 6-minute demented extravaganza named Sarlac, where George reaches the deepest and most obscure growls of the entire album. Slow and steady, almost sounding like Funeral Doom, this composition is very different from all previous tracks, showing the band’s crisp versatility in Extreme Metal.

If you feel more than ready to be embraced by Lunatic Hooker’s filthy and crushing Grindcore with the sluggish twist coming from their Sludge Metal vein, go join their demented crew at their official Facebook page and enjoy more of their cutting music at their YouTube channel. In Embracing The Filth, available at the band’s Big Cartel, at the Black Bow Records’ BandCamp and on Amazon, Lunatic Hooker were extremely successful in concentrating all their passion for extreme music and transform that metallic amalgam into reality, leaving all doors open for another blast of their vicious music anytime soon, and hopefully for many years to come as well.

Best moments of the album: My God Is Bigger than Yours, Embracing the Filth and Cult Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: Blood Eagle.

Released in 2017 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. My God Is Bigger than Yours 3:16
2. Beard Feared 2:32
3. The Pen Is Mightier than the Sword 3:08
4. Unearthed Dead Children 2:48
5. Embracing the Filth 3:07
6. Blood Eagle 4:13
7. Fucks All 2:46
8. Cult Chaos 3:24
9. Transformation Walrus 3:32
10. See the Light 2:35
11. Spain in the Neck 2:46
12. Sarlac 6:24

Bonus track
13. (We Are) The Road Crew (Motörhead cover) 2:44

Band members
George – vocals
Ross – guitar
Tim – guitar
Duncan – bass, vocals
Rafael – drums

Album Review – Blaze Bayley / Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II) (2017)

The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date, this time offering an action-packed album bursting with anger, passion and mystery.

Less than one year after the release of the gripping Infinite Entanglement, the indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the also astounding Endure And Survive, the second part of his most ambitious project, a Sci-Fi trilogy about Mr. William Christopher Black, a man who doesn’t know if he’s a man or a machine on a futuristic mission to discover one of the new Kepler planets. After the dark and climatic ending of the first part, I’m sure all fans of the Heavy Metal crafted by Blaze (including myself, of course) have been waiting anxiously for the next chapter in the eccentric journey of our mysterious main character, and Endure And Survive offer us all that and more in a brilliant way.

Once again accompanied by the talented Chris Appleton (guitar), Karl Schramm (bass) and Martin McNee (drums), all from British Heavy Metal band Absolva, plus many other very special guests such as Anne Bakker (violin) and Thomas Zwijsen (acoustic guitars), Blaze continues to tell the story of William Black magnificently, with a lot of poetry in his lyrics and, as usual, endless passion and energy in his vocals. The album’s futuristic artwork, designed once again by Andreas Sandberg with additional images from Christopher Steenstrup (who is also working on a Blaze Bayley video game), builds an instant connection with part one, showing how focused Blaze was on providing his loyal fans the most cohesive and exciting story possible.

Shall we begin? That’s precisely how the powerful title-track Endure and Survive starts, exactly where the first part ended, with the music itself continuing to be heavy, melodic and thrilling. In my humble opinion, Blaze found in Chris the perfect guitarist for his vocals as we can see in this epic tune, not to mention the song’s inspiring chorus and the amazing narrations, effectively taking us to the Sci-Fi world created by Blaze. In Escape Velocity, the story goes on at the speed of light, with Chris, Karl and Martin crafting electrifying music full of exciting solos and fast beats, while Blaze canalizes all his passion for metal and science fiction into his potent vocals, resulting in another classic song that I can’t wait to see him performing live. And after a dark intro we’re treated to the best musicality Blaze and his bandmates can offer, titled Blood, a high-speed furious Heavy Metal hymn absolutely perfect for the song’s aggressive lyrics, with Chris being simply insane with his riffs. Furthermore, a man and a woman explain who William Black really is, a murderer with blood on his hands according to them. Is that really the truth? Well, I don’t know the answer, at least not yet, but I know this song kicks some serious ass.

A pensive and anguished William is the centerpiece of the dark composition Eating Lies, showcasing all the talent of Blaze as a storyteller, as you can feel all the inner suffering from the story’s main character due to the lies being told about him through his vocals; followed by Destroyer, presenting that traditional sonority by Blaze seen in pretty much all his albums. In other words, it’s a very cohesive and rhythmic song about the “destroyer of worlds”, with the classic beats by Martin and the soulful riffs and solos by Chris supporting another excellent performance by Blaze. Then we have the epic Dawn of the Dead Son, where a woman with a suave voice seems to be talking inside William’s mind, with the music being a mix of his years with Iron Maiden with his contemporary material, displaying a galloping rhythm and blazing guitars. Each and every song has a reason to exist and this one is no exception to that, taking the listener once again on a dangerous but exciting journey before a serene ambience takes place in the stunning acoustic chant Remember. This troubadour-inspired folk version of Blaze is simply superb, being more melodic and romantic than “What Will Come” from part one, with Blaze flawlessly declaiming the song’s lyrics. Needless to say, his partnership with Thomas and Anne couldn’t sound more in sync, with the song’s female backing vocals also being a thing of beauty.

Returning to a more classic musicality, Fight Back is a song that would have already been amazing on its own in any of Blaze’s old albums, but that in Endure And Survive also plays an important part in the storyline, with Karl and Martin adding tons of heaviness to the music, therefore making it easier for Blaze to effectively deliver his potent vocals. Exhibiting hints of the classic Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath and some songs by Dio in his solo career, in special his biggest hit Holy Diver, the stunning The World Is Turning the Wrong Way brings forward a sensational aura and a profound, catchy chorus, with Chris’ guitar sounding heavier than hell, absolutely in line with all the darkness and agony found in the song’s lyrics. And finally, we have Together We Can Move the Sun, the most introspective and passionate of all songs, with Blaze’s strong voice being flawlessly complemented by the female vocal parts. Blaze and his crew offer us all eight minutes of a touching ballad, showcasing classy guitar lines, inspiring lyrics and an enigmatic (and extremely climatic) conclusion, building a sensational expectation for the third and final installment of the story of William Black, and in the end we all understand what has to happen in part three. William Black must… DIE!

Despite being avid for the conclusion of Blaze’s futuristic adventure, I’m more than happy to wait for it listening to both Infinite Entanglement and Endure And Survive in a row, savoring each and every line declaimed by the Messiah in those two albums. His official Facebook page is probably the best place to keep updated with all advancements in the recording of the next album and to know when he’ll be crushing your city with his amazing metal, and in order to put your hands on the second part of this kick-ass trilogy simply visit his official webstore, iTunes, Amazon or Discogs. Only Blaze knows the destiny of the dauntless voyager William Christopher Black, if he will live or die, or even if his entire life was real, and that marvelous uncertainty created by Blaze is the main ingredient that makes Endure And Survive (as well as Infinite Entanglement) stand out beautifully in contemporary heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Endure and Survive, Blood, Remember, The World Is Turning the Wrong Way and Together We Can Move the Sun.

Worst moments of the album: None. The whole album is awesome.

Released in 2017 Blaze Bayley Recordings

Track listing
1. Endure and Survive 4:27
2. Escape Velocity 3:27
3. Blood 4:41
4. Eating Lies 4:48
5. Destroyer 4:30
6. Dawn of the Dead Son 5:19
7. Remember 3:58
8. Fight Back 3:25
9. The World Is Turning the Wrong Way 4:35
10. Together We Can Move the Sun 8:14

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

Guest musicians
Corvin Bahn – accordion
Anne Bakker – violin, backing vocals
Thomas Zwijsen – acoustic guitars
Liz Owen, Melissa Adams, Joanne Kay Robinson & Luke Appleton – backing vocals
Michelle Sciarrotta – backing vocals, acoustic guitars, narration
Rob Toogood – backing vocals, narration
Aine Brewer – narration

Album Review – Dead Witches / Ouija (2017)

Beware as the witches are coming to take your soul with their occult, stoned-out Doom Metal.

Rating4

hps048_deadwitches_300dpi_cmykBritish drummer Mark Greening (Electric Wizard, Ramesses, With The Dead) and Italian singer Virginia Monti (Psychedelic Witchcraft) have joined forces to establish the heaviest occult, psych superbeast to see the light in 2017, taking the shape of Occult Stoner/Doom Metal act Dead Witches and unleashing upon us mere mortals their debut album obscurely entitled Ouija, a must-have for followers of bands like Electric Wizard, Sleep and Pentagram, among others, who love the combination of dark and strong melodies, heavy guitar riffs and a truly supernatural vibe.

Ouija is comprised of six distinct songs that will mesmerize you during the album’s 33 minutes of somber passages, classic Doom Metal beats and a stunning performance by Virginia on vocals, all perfectly depicted by the bewitching artwork designed by Goatess Doomwych. In addition, Ouija also ended up being the last release in the career of guitarist Greg Elk, who sadly passed away late 2016, giving the album an extra mystical touch. In other words, while listening to Ouija, let the awesome sound of Greg’s guitar penetrate your mind and soul, taking you to the other side for a quick visit where he’s definitely having a good time with his deceased guitar heroes right now. I’m pretty sure that’s what Greg and the rest of the band want you to feel with their music.

The album’s two-and-a-half-minute long Intro informs a dark, misty storm is upon us, with the menacing bass by Carl Geary sending a clear message that there will be no sign of happiness from now on, beginning with the excellent Dead, where Greg and Mark generate the most damned atmosphere you can think of with their fetching guitar riffs and Doom Metal beats, respectively, before the classy Virginia begins firing her sexy devilish vocals, leading us all to burn into the fire as the music progresses. And as the icing on the cake, Greg delivers an outstanding solo to make the whole song even more captivating.

deadwitches_02Then it’s Greg and Carl who build the wicked atmosphere in the sensational Drawing Down The Moon, my favorite song of the album where Virginia sounds even more rapturous on vocals. Moreover, when Mark speeds his beats up we’re treated to a potent sonority full of electricity, passion and the delicious obscurity of Doom Metal. The title-track Ouija is a lot more melancholic, highly recommended for savoring a full bottle of a high-quality, traditional red wine. Greg keeps blasting pure awesomeness through his riffs and solos, while at the same time we get hypnotized by the song’s vocal lines and beats inspired by ritualistic Doom Metal.

In Mind Funeral, get ready to play with the words “self”, “mind”, “control” and “funeral” together with Virginia throughout the whole song in a gripping way, while the rest of the band delivers their low-tuned, obscure lines flawlessly. Although this amazing chant might darken your heart a bit, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret feeling that darkness growing inside you thanks to the electrifying sonority brought forth by this England-based group. And A World Of Darkness, the last tune of this darkly alluring album, showcases powerful performances by Mark and Carl in over seven minutes of raw, straightforward old school Doom Metal that smoothly flow into a Stygian ending. Needless to say, the guitar sounds by Greg feel really touching the whole song, an amazing job done by a talented guitarist that will surely be missed by his family, friends and fans.

You can join the entrancing coven by this excellent UK band through their Facebook page or YouTube channel, and you’ll soon be able to buy your copy of Ouija at the Heavy Psych Sounds Records website, at the All That Is Heavy webstore, on Amazon and other locations. So beware, my dear headbanging friend, as the witches are coming to take your soul with the occult, stoned-out music found in Ouija, an album that has all it takes to become a fan-favorite among admirers of underground Doom Metal without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Drawing Down The Moon and Mind Funeral.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Intro 2:27
2. Dead 6:05
3. Drawing Down The Moon 5:54
4. Ouija 5:04
5. Mind Funeral 5:00
6. A World Of Darkness 7:35

Band members
Virginia Monti – vocals
Greg Elk (R.I.P.) – guitar
Carl Geary – bass
Mark Greening – drums

Album Review – Goatchrist / Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant) EP (2016)

Offering an exciting amalgamation of styles and elements, one of the most gripping Blackened Death Metal projects from the UK is back with the next step in its prosperous career.

Rating5

goatchrist-discipline-and-terror-the-timeless-praxes-of-the-drakon-covenant-coverIt’s becoming a delightful routine at The Headbanging Moose to publish a detailed review of the idiosyncratic and whimsical creations by British Blackened Death Metal project Goatchrist at least once a year. With that said, as 2016 draws to its dramatic close, there’s nothing better than carrying on with this special tradition with another top-tier EP by this West Yorkshire-based act led by the young and restless Dominator Xul’Ahabra, this time vampirically entitled Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant).

Featuring American musician Invoker (Defecrator, Gloriam Draconis) on vocal duties instead of Dominator himself, Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant) is a robust continuation to the prosperous career of the talented Dominator, being different in many aspects from his previous releases, the 2014 full-length She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror and the 2015 EP The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil, by offering the listener new vibrant elements of extreme music spiced up with nuances of other non-metal genres. And despite all advancements and variations in the music found in the EP, it still has that Goatchrist trademark sounding that makes this project stand out in the independent scene.

Bursting violence and anger, Enter Morain presents elements from Black, Death and Thrash Metal united in an aggressive way, with Invoker firing some Hardcore rasp vocals while Dominator delivers his usual darkened riffs and beats, never slowing down and always sounding electrified. The sensational The Burning of Jerusalem follows a pattern closer to Goatchrist’s previous releases, with its guitar riffs and solos, as well as its rhythmic blast beats, bringing a lot progressiveness and epicness to the musicality, making Invoker’s work on vocals easier and more dynamic when growling the song’s insurgent lyrics (“Now burn, Jerusalem. / For your reign has been broken, / By the sword of Western might / Know that we, your enemy, / Gift this blaze to thee, / So ye may bathe beneath its radiant light.”). Moreover, the compelling experimentations of Dominator with all his eccentric sounds and instruments are always a breath of fresh air to his compositions, sounding as if there were three or four songs in one like what we can witness in this excellent tune.

goatchrist-discipline-and-terror-the-timeless-praxes-of-the-drakon-covenant-newlogoThen out of nowhere, Dominator simply surprises us with a gentle atmospheric (and almost symphonic) ballad named A Meditation in Dead Stillness, very introspective and melancholic from start to finish, not to mention its beautiful name, working as a cinematic intermission to all madness flowing from the following song, the elaborate The Shadow of Malintent. Invoker darkly declaims the song’s elegiac lyrics (“The darkness is coming / And I too there dwell: / Older than day or night, / With fury that none may quell. / Sever your causal ties. / And lift your head to meet / with my gaze; then in a daze / See your ego’s defeat.”) while the music brings forward a Blues-ish vibe with elements from classic Western scores, Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, never getting full Black Metal but still feeling as Stygian as the other songs. In addition, the precise sync between Dominator’s guitar solos and bass lines with Invoker’s growls help the duo tell the story proposed magnificently.

Dominator Xul’Ahabra and his Goatchrist, an amazing project that has been on an upward spiral in the Extreme Metal independent scene in the UK since its inception, can be contacted through their official Facebook page, and their brand new opus Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant) is available at their BandCamp page, where you can also take a very good listen at and even buy all Goatchrist’s previous albums. In summary, Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant) is another solid step in Dominator’s career, offering fans of extreme music an exciting amalgamation of styles and elements and, consequently, fortifying the name of Goatchrist and helping the project achieve new heights and spread darkness all over the world.

Best moments of the album: The Burning of Jerusalem.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Enter Morain 4:27
2. The Burning of Jerusalem 7:31
3. A Meditation in Dead Stillness 2:08
4. The Shadow of Malintent 8:43

Band members
Invoker – vocals
Dominator Xul’Ahabra – all instruments

Album Review – Warcrab / Scars of Aeons (2016)

Enjoy one of the most complete and thrilling Sludge Metal albums of the past few years, courtesy of six exceptional musicians from the UK.

Rating4

coverIt’s time to get extremely heavy with the precise fusion of Death, Sludge and Doom Metal blasted by British squad Warcrab, a sextet that has been on the road since 2009 offering their warlike music to fans of the dark side of underground metal, starting with their self-titled debut EP in 2012 and then with their 2014 EP named Ashes of Carnage. Hailing from Plymouth, a city on the south coast of Devon, England, Warcrab are back with new material and will crush your head with the darkened and sluggish compositions found in Scars of Aeons, their debut full-length album and one of the best of the genre from the past few years in my humble opinion.

The music by Warcrab is not only highly recommended for connoisseurs of Sludge Metal, but it’s also an amazing alternative for fans of bands like Bolt Thrower, Amon Amarth and Slayer due to the more aggressive approach coming from their Death Metal influences. That exciting mix of different types of extreme music led them to play numerous shows across the UK in 2015, sharing the stage with renowned artists such as Vader, Incantation and Desecration, which also turned out to be an excellent source of creativity and potency for the music found in Scars of Aeons. If there’s a word that can be used to define their musicality, I would say that word is “heaviness”.

The intro to the opening track Conquest couldn’t be more obscure and damned, but it’s when drummer Rich Parker starts pounding his drums that a dark feeling truly impregnates the air. Martyn Grant’s vociferations boost the vileness of the song, with guitarists Paul “Budgie” Garbett and Leigh Jones being spot-on with their heavy and demonic riffs throughout the song’s eight raw and fierce minutes, ending with a sensational solo by lead guitarist Geoff Holmes. The following song, Destroyer of Worlds, is tailored for breaking your neck and pulverizing your spinal cord, with the Death Metal vocals by Martyn matching perfectly with the musicality generated by the rest of the band. It is a kick-ass combination of the heaviness and moodiness of Sludge Metal with the belligerence of Death Metal, or in other words, the level of brutality in this amazing composition is definitely not for the lighthearted. And increasing their speed a bit and leaning towards a more Death Metal vibe, Warcrab keep attacking us all with their visceral music in the solid In the Shadow of Grief, where all guitarists are in perfect sync while Rich continues to fire his rhythmic and potent beats.

group-photoIn the sensational Bury Me Before I’m Born, Geoff’s soulful solos are exactly what’s needed to give more balance to the overall inhumanity generated by the band in the beginning of the song, before Martyn growls his possessed words in a demonic way. Moreover, it has a primeval and tribal feel that gets mesmerizing as the song progresses, with the thunderous bass by Dave “Guppy” Simmonds snarling like an evil monster in the background. Warcrab still have a 10-minute ode to darkness and hate to offer us all, the title-track Scars of Aeons, a groovy and powerful composition where Martyn leads the band’s Doom Metal assault with his deranged growls and screams. Despite being a neck-breaking tune, it also brings forward a good amount of melody and harmony to the listener, proving how talented the whole band is, gradually slowing down and getting more and more blackened and melancholic until all is said and done.

As aforementioned, I consider Scars of Aeons one of the most complete and thrilling Sludge/Doom Metal albums of the past few years, offering all the elements traditionally found in this type of music and at the same time presenting a fresh vibe thanks to the sensational job done by all Warcrab guys with their instruments. They deserve our respect and support for carrying the flag of extreme music in such a classy way, and in order to do that we should all give them a shout at their Facebook page, bang our heads to their music at their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase Scars of Aeons at the Black Bow Records’ BandCamp page.

Best moments of the album: Destroyer of Worlds and Scars of Aeons.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. Conquest 8:29
2. Destroyer of Worlds 4:47
3. In the Shadow of Grief 5:56
4. Bury Me Before I’m Born 4:51
5. Scars of Aeons 10:09

Band members
Martyn Grant – vocals
Geoff Holmes – lead guitar
Paul “Budgie” Garbett – guitar
Leigh Jones – guitar
Dave “Guppy” Simmonds – bass
Rich Parker – drums

 

Album Review – Cryptic Shift / Beyond the Celestial Realms EP (2016)

An action-packed voyage through space and time, led by a Sci-Fi Death Metal Assault Squad from the UK eager to conquer the entire universe with their progressive and technical brutality.

Rating5

btcr-coverAre you ready for a voyage through space and time, a daredevil journey to a parallel universe where you’ll face technology a million light-years beyond our knowledge and where unknown forms of extraterrestrial life coexist, all to the sound of a very progressive and technical fusion of Death and Thrash Metal? This is what you’ll get in Beyond the Celestial Realms, the brand new EP by British Progressive Death/Thrash Metal act Cryptic Shift. If you’re a fan of the hard-hitting and intricate sound of iconic bands such as Death, Obituary and Voivod, lasers will blast from your eyes with excitement while listening to Cryptic Shift.

Formed in 2010 under the name Crÿptic Shift, this Leeds-based group calls itself a “Sci-Fi Death Metal Assault Squad”, a distinct designation that makes total sense as soon as you start listening to their high-quality material. And this blend of extreme music and Sci-Fi led the band to share the stage with renowned acts like Exodus, Hirax and Lost Society, also playing at some up-and-coming festivals in the UK such as Thrashersaurus, Full Thrash Assault and Thrashoholic Fest, all between 2014 and 2015. Beyond the Celestial Realms, which features a “futuristic old school” (if that expression exists) artwork by Nemesis Design, can be considered the “encapsulation” of the band’s short but very active career,  containing revamped versions of some of their original demos mixed with brand new compositions and, of course, a high level of brutality and stamina.

In the cinematic/alien-inspired intro Beyond the Celestial Realms, ominous acoustic lines and a phantom voice inform the listener a dangerous journey is about to begin, entitled Voyage Through Dimensions.  This feast of old school Death and Thrash Metal with a futuristic concept brings forward sheer dexterity and aggressiveness through the guitar riffs by Xander Bradley and Henry Parker, which precisely follow the potent rhythm imposed by drummer Ryan Sheperson. The second half of the song gets groovier thanks to the rumbling sound of the bass guitar by John Riley, adding layers to a song that has all it takes to become the band’s biggest classic in the future.

cryptic-shiftWhen a song is named Deathcrusher, we all know it’s going to be a demonic onrush perfect for breaking your neck headbanging until its apocalyptic ending, with its Slayer-ish riffs being nicely complemented by some traditional Death Metal beats.  In addition to that, Xander and Ryan not only have their kick-ass riffs to provide us, but their solos are also amazing. The following song, Spore, showcases a traditional fast-paced Death Metal rhythm boosted by the piercing guitars by Xander and Ryan, sounding like a fusion of Anthrax and Death, in special the vocal lines by Xander. And after the song’s calm and harmonious break halfway through it, we’re treated to a storm of groovy high-end guitar solos and endless progressiveness. Lastly, the initial peace found in Glacial Reclamation suddenly gives place to an outstanding Thrash Metal extravaganza, with Xander blasting his growls while John keeps delivering his low-tuned punches. All band members display a high level of adroitness with their instruments in this solid and thrilling composition, getting even more progressive than all previous tracks.

The gates to the parallel universe of Death Metal crafted by Cryptic Shift can be found at the band’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and the key to open those gates can be purchased at their official website or BandCamp page, at the Fractured Mind Records’ BandCamp, at the Nightbreaker Productions’ webstore, at the Tictail’s webstore, or at the Blood Harvest’s webstore. Cryptic Shift aim at conquering this universe (and any other existing ones) with their fusion of progressiveness and brutality, and based on the high quality of the music found in Beyond the Celestial Realms, we can say their spaceship of Death Metal is on course without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Voyage Through Dimensions.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Fractured Mind Records/Nightbreaker Productions

Track listing    
1. Beyond the Celestial Realms 1:12
2. Voyage Through Dimensions 5:29
3. Deathcrusher 6:04
4. Spore 5:40
5. Glacial Reclamation 4:40

Band members
Xander Bradley – vocals, guitars
Henry Parker – guitars
John Riley – bass
Ryan Sheperson – drums