Album Review – Carcass / Despicable EP (2020)

The trailblazers of Goregrind, Grindcore and Melodic Death Metal are back with a four-track collection of songs serving as a precursor to their upcoming 2021 album.

The legendary Liverpool, UK-based institution Carcass has released several classic albums over the years and changed the trajectory of Extreme Metal with each consecutive release, with albums like Reek of Putrefaction and Heartwork creating the template for Goregrind, Grindcore and Melodic Death Metal. Now in 2020, seven years after the release of the excellent Surgical Steel (and six years after the EP Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel), the band currently comprised of Jeff Walker on vocals and bass, Bill Steer and Tom Draper on the guitars, and Daniel Wilding on drums is about to release a new EP entitled Despicable, a four-track collection of songs serving as a precursor to the band’s upcoming 2021 full-length album and, above all, a bold and gory statement that those four guys still have a lot of fuel to burn and blood to spill with their wicked creations.

Just hit play and when The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue begins you’ll know it’s goddamn Carcass form the very first guitar note, with Bill and Tom sharpening their axes for a Grindcore and Death Metal onrush that’s about to start while Jeff snarls demonically as usual, also full of breaks and variations effectively inserted throughout this infernal tune. Led by the classy beats by Daniel, the quartet fires another solid, headbanging creation beautifully titled The Long and Winding Bier Road, where Jeff’s inhumane gnarls get deeper and more enraged, with their guitars showcasing more of their trademark riffage; and one more round of darkened riffs, devilish growls and rhythmic beats fills our avid ears in Under the Scalpel Blade, where it becomes clear the band is focusing a lot more on shaping up their melody rather than pure speed and heaviness. However, it’s when they accelerate their pace that things get really exciting (at least for old school fans like myself). Lastly, the band’s guitar duo keeps extracting strident, razor-edged sounds form their guitars in Slaughtered in Soho, sounding very progressive at times while Jeff continues to haunt our souls with his demon-like barks and vociferations.

I must admit Despicable is much better than what I was expecting, a really entertaining EP of modern-day Melodic Death Metal infused with Grindcore elements, and if this is the direction Carcass are taking with their music I can’t wait to see what they’ll bring into being in 2021 with their seventh full-length opus. Having said that, you can add Despicable to your demonic collection by clicking HERE or HERE, and keep an eye on the band’s official Facebook page and on Instagram for news about their upcoming album and, of course, for their tour dates as soon as all this madness is over. Let’s all hope 2021 is a much better year than this nasty 2020, and that bands like Carcass keep inspiring us all, “despicable” human beings, to slam into the circle pit while they pulverize our ears with their refined technique and aggressiveness for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue 6:00
2. The Long and Winding Bier Road 4:21
3. Under the Scalpel Blade 3:55
4. Slaughtered in Soho 4:37

Band members
Jeff Walker – vocals, bass
Bill Steer – guitars, backing vocals
Tom Draper – guitars
Daniel Wilding – drums

Album Review – Eight Lives Down / Humans (2020)

Four distinct musicians from four different countries united in the name of metal, bringing to us all a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable.

Originally founded by Greek-Kiwi vocalist and lyricist Aliki Katriou in 2016 together with British guitarist James Scott (replaced by French guitarist Paul Allain in 2017), bassist Marcin Orczyk from Poland, and Brazilian drummer Rodrigo Moraes Cruz, London, UK-based Extreme Metal act Eight Lives Down has its roots in Groove and Thrash Metal, but constantly branches out stylistically incorporating influences from Progressive, Death and Black Metal, as well as various other musical genres such as Punk Rock, Blues, and traditional folk music, while vocals range from low growls and high screams to clean and even operatic phrases, creating a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable. Now in 2020 the quartet is ready to invade our senses with their debut full-length opus, entitled Humans, showcasing all their versatility, dynamism, creativity and rage, all enhanced by the album’s top-notch mixing and mastering done by Dan Baune at Noise Foundry Productions, while embraced by a modern, stylish artwork by Dylan Sutton.

The blazing guitar riffs by Paul kick off the sick and groovy Opening Shots, bringing forward a fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more modern and alternative styles, with Aliki growling like a true she-demon for our total delight, followed by Misguided, where the metallic bass jabs by Marcin will hit you in the face while Aliki blasts her wicked mix of clean vocals and harsh gnarls, leaning towards contemporary Thrash and Groove Metal while Rodrigo dictates the pace with his classy beats. Then the mesmerizing vocalizations by Aliki accompanied by tribalistic sounds and tones ignite the heavy and experimental Angela, with Paul, Marcin and Rodrigo bringing sheer progressiveness to the music with their refined techniques, whereas From The Cradle is a lot more introspective, grim and atmospheric than its predecessors, starting in a semi-acoustic manner while Aliki declaims the song’s dark lyrics, sounding at the same time like a 90’s Groove and Funk Metal tune and a modern-day thrashing tune, something a wicked band like Faith No More would definitely do.

More of their rumbling sounds permeate the air in the also heavy and furious Sacrifice, a lecture in Groove Metal by Eight Lives Down where Aliki’s roars get deeper and more enraged while Rodrigo sounds pulverizing on drums, supported by Marcin’s menacing bass; and in Organize Your Mind the quartet offers us all a hybrid of the rebelliousness of Alternative Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, with Paul being on absolute fire with his demented riffage, while also presenting interesting atmospheric passages and endless heaviness. After that it’s time to break our necks headbanging together with Aliki and the boys in Colder, adding hints of Heavy Rock to their already crushing sonority while Paul and Marcin have a fun duel with their strident riffs and solos and low-tuned bass punches, respectively. Lastly, you better get ready for nine minutes of introspection, groove and heaviness in the form of Why, starting in a serene way with Aliki declaiming the song’s cryptic words, evolving into a thunderous metal feast led by Rodrigo’s visceral beats, not to mention the incendiary solos by Paul as the icing on the cake.

This precious gem of Extreme and Experimental Metal can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to show your support to Aliki and her loyal henchmen you should definitely buy a copy of Humans from their own BandCamp page, from their webstore or from Amazon, as well as follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about such up-and-coming metal band, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their idiosyncratic creations. It will certainly be more than just interesting to see what the future holds for Eight Lives Down with their upcoming releases, if they’ll keep experimenting like crazy or if they’ll set a defined shape and style for their music. Until then, while we wait for the creative mind of Aliki to provide us more insanity in the form of music, we can keep banging our heads nonstop to Humans, by far one of the best alternative albums of the year.

Best moments of the album: Opening Shots and Sacrifice.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Cult Of Parthenope

Track listing
1. Opening Shots 3:50
2. Misguided 4:01
3. Angela 3:56
4. From The Cradle 7:40
5. Sacrifice 3:52
6. Organize Your Mind 4:21
7. Colder 4:20
8. Why 9:02

Band members
Aliki Katriou – vocals
Paul Allain – guitar
Marcin Orczyk – bass
Rodrigo Moraes Cruz – drums

Album Review – South of Salem / The Sinner Takes It All (2020)

This excellent UK outfit is ready to take the entire world by storm with an album full of cult anthems that have a truly original (but recognizable) take on the rock and metal genres with a horror twist.

Having spent the best part of a decade working on various musical projects supporting the likes of Iced Earth, The Damned, Wednesday 13, and The Birthday Massacre, the up-and-coming Bournemouth, UK-based Hard Rock outfit South of Salem has just brought to life their debut effort The Sinner Takes It All, an album full of cult anthems that have a truly original (but recognizable) take on the rock and metal genres with a horror twist. Recorded at Grindstone Studio in Suffolk, UK and produced, mixed, and mastered by Scott Atkins (Cradle Of Filth, Amon Amarth, Sylosis, Behemoth), the title of the album, according to vocalist Joey, guitarists Kodi and Fish, bassist Dee and drummer Pip, “represents the corruption connected to wealth and power. How in dark times the rich become more affluent and the poor become more disconnected. During the current pandemic, small businesses are going under and people are more reliant on their government. Human beings abusing others, when they should be helping one another. The sinners are truly preparing to take it all. Enough is enough!”

A Rock N’ Roll storm is about to begin in Let Us Prey, with its lyrics inspired by The Purge film series (“They call us sick but we’re feeling fine / Just counting down to the killing time / Tonight, tonight was made for us / We know we’re sick but we hide it well / On a murder mile straight to hell / Tonight we’re armed and dangerous”) while Kodi and Fish sound beyond insane with their riffs, followed by The Hate In Me, a modernized hybrid of Motley Crüe and Godsmack with a heavier twist where Joey exhales rage through his vocals while Pip keeps pounding his drums in great fashion. Then it’s time for the band’s guitar duo to slash their axes nonstop in the Hard rock extravaganza No Plague Like Home, the perfect soundtrack for a pub brawl with Dee and Pip bringing the thunder to the overall result, not to mention its kick-ass guitar solos, whereas the rumbling bass punches by Dee provides Joey a dense base for his introspective vocals in Pretty Little Nightmare, a song about the darkest side of love, ready to be played on any Rock N’ Roll radio station thanks to the dynamic and classic beats by Pip. After such introspective composition, let’s all rev up our engines to the sound of Made To Be Mine, where the fiery riffs by Kodi and Fish will make your blood boil, evolving into a melodious and vibrant sonority showcasing spot-on backing vocals and another excellent performance by Joey.

Piercing guitars and an 80’s-inspired vibe are the main ingredients in the Melodic Rock tune titled Cold Day In Hell, with Joey leading his crew with his rockin’ vocals in another song about obscure relationships, whereas in Demons Are Forever, featuring Alex Avdis (aka The AvD) of Red Method and The Defiled, we face a grim, eerie atmosphere generated by all band members while Joey delivers a somber performance on vocals. Furthermore, don’t forget to check the stunning official video for this song as it is intended to raise suicide awareness. Back to a more berserk and vicious mode, the quintet blasts the Punk Rock-infused Another Nail In My Coffin, blending elements from the music by The Misfits and Social Distortion with their classic rock sound, all spiced up by the song’s enfolding riffs, and keeping the level of adrenaline high South of Salem offer us all Severely Yours, a song about temptation in long-term relationships presenting a great job done once again by Joey with his raspy vocals while Pipi delivers classic beats nonstop. Finally, closing such excellent album we have one more punk-ish tune entitled Dead Hearts Don’t Break, dealing with negative thoughts and the way one relationship can contaminate all future ones, with Kodi, Fish and Dee being on absolute fire with their stringed weapons.

In a nutshell, South of Salem more than nailed it with The Sinner Takes It All, an album that will undoubtedly entertain any type of rock and metal fan, from the ones who love a good melody to rockers who enjoy some action in the mosh pit. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to stream more of their music on Spotify, and above all that, to support those talented UK musicians by purchasing their debut album from their own Big Cartel page (and sooner than later from other retailers such as Apple Music and Amazon). Relationships are always tough, it doesn’t matter where you come from, your religion, sexual orientation and so on, and as there’s not much we can do about that besides trying to be the best person to our significant other every single day, why not doing that while also enjoying the top-of-the-line rock and metal music provided by South of Salem in their new album? I’m more than certain that at least your ears, your mind and your soul will feel a lot stronger and happier to the sound of their awesome creations.

Best moments of the album: Let Us Prey, No Plague Like Home and Another Nail In My Coffin.

Worst moments of the album: Pretty Little Nightmare.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Let Us Prey 3:24
2. The Hate In Me 3:35
3. No Plague Like Home 4:06
4. Pretty Little Nightmare 3:53
5. Made To Be Mine 3:41
6. Cold Day In Hell 4:28
7. Demons Are Forever 4:41
8. Another Nail In My Coffin 3:53
9. Severely Yours 3:15
10. Dead Hearts Don’t Break 3:35

Band members
Joey – vocals
Kodi – guitar
Fish – guitar
Dee – bass
Pip – drums 

Guest musicians
The AvD – keyboards and samples on “Demons Are Forever”

Album Review – Vesicarum / Reign Of Terror EP (2020)

Follow the story of a serial killer from his beginnings through stages of murder and torture in the form of crushing and visceral Death Metal made in the UK.

Formed in 2016 as a solo project by vocalist Glynn Neve and growing in early 2018 to include guitarists Martin Shipton and James Thompson, bassist Orla Blue Reed and drummer Donal McGee, Vesicarum are a visceral five-piece Death Metal band from Kent, UK bursting at the seams with brutal energy, featuring frantic, technical riffing topped off with Glynn’s signature vocal style, unleashing upon us now in 2020 their debut EP Reign Of Terror. By the way, the name “vesicarum”, meaning “to fester” in Latin, is an ode to the sinister nature of the band’s music and lyrical content. Featuring darker subjects including serial killers and The Ankou (The Graveyard Watcher), the central lyrical theme is hatred, while the band describes their music as an adrenaline rush that is a great escape from the stresses and strains of life. “The EP tells a story of a serial killer from his beginnings through stages of murder and torture,” states Glynn, complementing by saying that “The first four songs on the EP are about the killer and his development – however the last track [Undivine End] switches to the victim’s point of view – it was written to give the listener the impression of a victim tied up in the killer’s torture chamber awaiting his demise.”

Bringing to our ears a fusion of Groove and Death Metal, the sick bass punches by Orla match perfectly with the deep roars by Glynn in the opening track Reign Of Terror and its horror flick-inspired lyrics (“Using my nails to tear at the skin / My ghastly life is about to begin / I’m in a frenzy my head starts to spin / My patience in these scum is wearing real thin / Committing murder is a pleasurable sin / Always giving me a sinister grin / Acts of horror, such a beautiful thing / Pure fucking evil, pure fucking grim”), whereas The Sick And The Depraved sounds even groovier and more imposing from the very first second, with Glynn growling manically accompanied by the slashing riffs by James and Martin, also presenting elements from the Death Metal by renowned acts such as Obituary and Unleashed. Then it’s time for Donal to crush his drum set in Midnight Slasher, a true headbanger where the guitars by James and Martin are spitting fire while Orla generates a rumbling atmosphere in the background, feeling modern and at the same time loyal to classic Death Metal. Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer brings forward more insanity and fear in the form of extreme music, showcasing another bestial kitchen work by Donal and Orla while Glynn continues to distill his venomous, guttural vocals. In other words, simply crack your neck headbanging to this sick tune until the disturbing outro Undivine End captivates your senses, offering us all eerie instrumental passages that sound as if the whole song was taken form an actual horror movie.

The psychological terror blasted by Vesicarum through their undisputed Death Metal in Reign Of Terror can be better appreciated in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you can show your deep passion for extreme music by purchasing the EP from Vesicarum’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, and also by following the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, filling your ears with all the wrath, violence and heaviness flowing from the band’s crushing music and, therefore, leaving us all curious to witness the next chapter in the career of this up-and-coming UK-based squad in their reign of violence, insanity and metal.

Best moments of the album: The Sick And The Depraved and Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 One Eyed Toad Records

Track listing
1. Reign Of Terror 6:23
2. The Sick And The Depraved 3:30
3. Midnight Slasher 4:33
4. Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer 3:20
5. Undivine End 2:14

Band members
Glynn Neve – vocals
James Thompson – guitars
Martin Shipton – guitars
Orla Blue Reed – bass
Donal McGee – drums

Album Review – Grimgotts / Sagas EP (2020)

A UK-based Symphonic Power Metal squad continues to chronicle the epic battles between men and dragons on the high seas of Andria in the second part of their new trilogy.

Fans of Rhapsody of Fire, Dragonforce, Sonata Arctica and Alestorm will be signing up to set sail with London, UK-based Symphonic Power Metal band Grimgotts with their brand new EP entitled Sagas, the second part of a trilogy that started earlier this year with the release of the EP Tales, and that will see its epic conclusion later in 2020 with the third EP Legends. Sagas continues to chronicle the epic battles between men and dragons on the high seas of the mythical land of Andria, which is by the way the band’s own original fantasy realm, just like what was told in the first EP of the trilogy and in their previous releases Lions of the Sea (2017) and Dragons of the Ages (2019), proving the band formed by frontman Andy Barton, guitarist David Hills, keyboardist Fabio Garau, bassist Nelson Moreira and drummer Mo Abdelgadir definitely know how to unite fantasy and heavy music with tons of symphonic and epicness flawlessly for the delight of metal fans across the seven seas (and beyond).

It’s time to sail together with the pirates from Grimgotts in the opening tune Northern Passage, a symphonic and epic feast led by the inspiring keys by Fabio and the always precise beats by Mo, while Andy declaims the song’s lyrics like a true bard. Put differently, simply grab your sword and join the band in their quest for metal, whereas the strident riffage by David ignites the even more metallic Power Metal tune Rise Again, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Nelson and the awesome balance between Andy’s vocal lines and Fabio’s magical keyboards, definitely making your day more exciting and fun. Then we have Plunder, Loot & Chantey, an absolutely perfect soundtrack for prancing around the fire while drinking a pint of mead, or if you prefer a more “technical” language, this is a very entertaining fusion of Symphonic Power Metal with Folk and Epic Metal, with Mo dictating the pace with his classic beats. And lastly, the band offers the faster and more traditional title-track Sagas, another great option for banging your heads with Grimgotts, with David and Fabio making an incendiary duo with their respective riffs and keys while Andy showcases all his talent as the band’s frontman, leaving us eager for the last EP of their trilogy in a not-so-distant future.

It feels like Grimgotts are following a treasure map with Tales, Sagas and Legends, with each EP and each song being a different adventure the listener needs to face before reaching the glorious end of the trilogy, and let’s all admit their formula is working really well, making us all excited and ready for their next challenge. Hence, don’t forget to follow those UK metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, to listen to more of their music on Spotify, and to grab your copy of Sagas (sooner than you can scream “ahoy!”) and all of their previous albums from their own BandCamp page, showing them your true support and proving you have what it takes to sail the unruly seas of Andria together with the boys from Grimgotts, spending your time signing metal anthems while drinking beer and raising your swords until the end of their exciting saga.

Best moments of the album: Rise Again and Plunder, Loot & Chantey.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Northern Passage 4:18
2. Rise Again 6:52
3. Plunder, Loot & Chantey 3:43
4. Sagas 4:06

Band members
Andy Barton – lead vocals
David Hills – guitars
Fabio Garau – keyboards
Nelson Moreira – bass
Mo Abdelgadir – drums

Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial EP (2020)

Adopting a more progressive sound, this unstoppable UK-based Alternative Rock unity is more than ready to rock your world with the first half of their third full-length album.

After embellishing the airwaves with their refined fusion of Alternative Rock and Metal with nuances of Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock in their previous efforts, those being their 2015 debut album Of The Night and their 2018 release Motus Octo, Cambridge, UK’s own Bouquet of Dead Crows are back from outer space with the first part of their third full-length album Hemispheres, the six-track EP titled Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial. Adopting a more progressive sound with their trademark riffs with big melodies approach being enhanced to incorporate more layered and nuanced elements, the band currently comprised of Antoinette Cooper on vocals, Neil Bruce on the guitars, newcomer Karen Gadd on bass, and Andrew Coxall on drums and synths is more than ready to rock your world with Celestial, also preparing us all for the second half of their musical journey, Cerebral, scheduled for a late 2020 or maybe even an early 2021 release.

Recorded at the beginning of the year at Parlour Studios, mixed and produced by Neil Haynes, and featuring a stylish artwork by longtime collaborator Stewart Harris, from Stewart Harris Designs, Celestial has an overall theme of mental health, which is a topic all band members are very passionate about. With each song, they’ve written about issues that affect them individually and personally. There’s been a lot of stigma about depression and anxiety over the years, and as the mood slowly shifts, this album captures the zeitgeist of our current unpredictable day-to-day life, the fears we are all experiencing right now. In addition, although written before the pandemic that the world is currently experiencing, a lot of the lyrics do seem strangely prescient and also very relevant, such as the chorus of the title track which says that “it’s not the end of the world this time, it feels like the end of the world every time.”

Atmospheric and eerie from the very first second, the Sci-Fi intro Terraformer will captivate your senses and warm you up for the British Rock extravaganza titled Before The Storm, where Neil and Karen are in absolute sync with their riffs and bass, respectively, providing Antoinette exactly what she needs to shine on vocals while also bringing elements of Jazz to their core alternative essence, flowing smoothly into the gentle and enfolding Caged, where Andrew does a superb job with both his beats and his ethereal synths. In addition, Karen brings the groove to the overall result, also full of nice breaks and variations, whereas Neil begins slashing his strings in great fashion in the fast and thrilling Left to Rot, the most metallic of all songs of the EP with Antoinette adding a touch of finesse to the rumbling sounds blasted by her bandmates with her piercing vocals. Then it’s time to celebrate all giant monsters from the Japanese culture like Godzilla and Gamera in Kaiju Hijinks, another explosion of groove and adrenaline by the quartet presenting elements from Stoner Rock and Jazz to make things more interesting, not to mention the razor-edged riffs by Neil, followed by the title-track for the full album, Hemispheres, an introspective and futuristic song that evolves into a gentle Hard Rock ballad led by Andrew’s rhythmic drums and Neil’s classic riffs, ending the EP on a high note and setting the bar high for the second act Cerebral in the coming months.

Celestial, which is available for a full listen on YouTube (as six very entertaining visualizers) and on Spotify, is definitely a step forward in the career of Bouquet of Dead Crows, and in order to show those rockers your true appreciation don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and of course to grab your copy of the EP from the German Shepherd Records’ BandCamp page, from Music Glue, from Apple Music or from Amazon. After putting your hands on this excellent EP, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack for rockin’ around your house or in your car during such strange times we’re living, while we all wait for Antoinette, Neil & Co. to deliver more of their stylish Rock N’ Roll with the next chapter in their evolutionary career, Cerebral.

Best moments of the album: Left to Rot and Kaiju Hijinks.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Terraformer 1:32
2. Before The Storm 2:34
3. Caged 3:49
4. Left to Rot 3:31
5. Kaiju Hijinks 2:36
6. Hemispheres 5:22

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars
Karen Gadd – bass, backing vocals
Andrew Coxall – drums, synths, programming, backing vocals

Album Review – Onslaught / Generation Antichrist (2020)

These Bristol, UK-based veterans are ready to set the world on fire once again with one of the most ferocious Thrash Metal albums of the year.

Synonymous with the brilliance and endurance of today’s Thrash Metal movement, Bristol, UK-based veterans Onslaught are ready to set the world on fire once again with one of the most ferocious Thrash Metal albums of the year, the excellent Generation Antichrist. Their long-awaited new album was recorded at Dugout Productions in Uppsala, Sweden, with Grammy Award winner Daniel Bergstrand (Behemoth, In Flames, Meshuggah) at the helm, capturing Onslaught’s classic sound with a pristine modern production. Not only that, Generation Antichrist is the first album to feature new vocalist David Garnett, replacing longtime frontman Sy Keeler, delivering a vocal performance on par with the brutal musical attack crafted by guitarists Nige Rockett and Wayne Dorman, bassist Jeff Williams and drummer James Perry. Influenced by second-generation Hardcore Punk bands and inspired by a world full of hatred, megalomaniacs and political madness, Onslaught are eager to unleash the new beast that is Generation Antichrist, one of their best efforts since their inception in the distant year of 1983.

Tune in to an old school Thrash Metal intro titled Rise to Power, starting in a visceral and heavy-as-hell way with James demolishing his drums while newcomer David showcases his growling abilities, setting the tone for Strike Fast Strike Hard, bringing forward modern thrash the likes of Exodus during their Rob Dukes-era that’s more than perfect for slamming into the mosh pit like a maniac, with Nige and Wayne being unstoppable with their shredding and wicked solos, making the song’s electricity and aggressiveness go through the roof. And they keep hammering our heads without a single drop of mercy in Bow Down to the Clowns, with Jeff firing sheer thunder from his bass while James’ drums dictate the song’s headbanging rhythm. In addition, the song’s backing vocals provide an amazing support to David’s sick screams in great Thrash Metal fashion.

The title-track Generation Antichrist couldn’t have sounded darker and more austere than this, a brutal and high-octane extravaganza tailored for diehard fans of Thrash Metal showcasing a fantastic job done by both Nige and Wayne with their axes while James continues to pound his drums manically, and get ready to crush your skull into the pit together with Onslaught in the modern-day thrashing tune titled All Seeing Eye, where David’s vocals match perfectly with the message from the song’s lyrics and the band’s vicious sounds, proving why he was the chosen to be Onslaught’s new frontman. Following such devastating tune we have Addicted to the Smell of Death, a great title for a frantic display of Thrash Metal led by James’ machine gun-like beats accompanied by a demented riffage, also bringing to our avid ears classic backing vocals and endless stamina, with David once again going berserk on vocals.

Then it’s time to break your neck headbanging to the sound of Empires Fall, again presenting elements form the current thrash blasted by Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, proving why Thrash Metal doesn’t need to be played at the speed of light to sound infernal, whereas the demolishing hurricane titled Religiousuicide is an ode to 80’s and 90’s Thrash Metal that will make your blood boil without a shadow of a doubt, all spiced up by its acid, blasphemous lyrics (“Sacrament or Sacrifice / Holier than thou / Anti cult or Antichrist / Messiah take a bow / Hanging on the Holy Cross / Judicious parasite / Religion takes it up the ass / Is Jesus Fucking Christ”) barked by David while Nige and Wayne are on fire with their strident solos from start to finish. And last but not least, the band offers a new version of A Perfect Day to Die, originally released in 2019 as a single still with Sy Keeler on vocals, sounding just as incendiary and visceral, with Jeff and James making sure Onslaught’s kitchen remains rumbling and metallic.

In summary, the reinvigorated old school Thrash Metal platoon known as Onslaught are simply kicking some serious ass throughout the entire Generation Antichrist, with newcomer David bringing a huge dosage of adrenaline to the band with his raspy vocals and, therefore, pointing to a bright future in their already awesome career. You can find more details about Onslaught, their music and their tour dates (whenever this COVID-19 madness is over, of course) on their official Facebook page and on Instagram, listen to more of their crushing thrash on Spotify, and purchase your copy of Generation Antichrist from the AFM Records webstore or by clicking HERE. I’m sure all fans of classic and modern thrash like myself are going to be truly impressed with the high quality of the music found in Onslaught’s new effort, urging us all to slam into the circle pit even if we have to do it by ourselves while isolated in our homes.

Best moments of the album: Strike Fast Strike Hard, Generation Antichrist and Religiousuicide.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Rise to Power 2:05
2. Strike Fast Strike Hard 4:38
3. Bow Down to the Clowns 4:50
4. Generation Antichrist 5:43
5. All Seeing Eye 3:50
6. Addicted to the Smell of Death 3:55
7. Empires Fall 5:34
8. Religiousuicide 3:29
9. A Perfect Day to Die (2020 version) 3:50

Band members
David Garnett – vocals
Nige Rockett – guitar
Wayne Dorman – guitar
Jeff Williams – bass
James Perry – drums

Album Review – Stormzone / Ignite The Machine (2020)

One of the most important names of the underground UK scene ignites their metal machine once again, offering us all another round of their undisputed Heavy Metal.

A name evoking images of power and strength, Belfast, Northern Ireland-based Heavy Metal/Hard Rock outfit Stormzone is set to release their seventh full-length album, entitled Ignite The Machine, featuring 12 original compositions of blistering Heavy Metal that have already been hailed as their strongest collection of tracks to date. A melting pot of Power Metal and traditional Heavy Metal, Ignite The Machine has all Stormzone trademarks, but more melodies and bigger, catchier choruses than ever before, raising the bar even higher than what the band currently comprised of John “Harv” Harbinson on lead vocals, Steve Moore and newcomer Dave Shields on the guitars, Graham McNulty on bass and backing vocals, and newcomer Davy Bates on drums did in their previous album, the 2018 high-octane metal party titled Lucifer’s Factory. From the very first notes in the opening track “Tolling Of The Bell” to the electrifying tribute to all bands we learned to love through the years in the closing tune “This Is Heavy Metal”, Stormzone kick some serious ass in Ignite The Machine, inviting us all to join those UK metallers in their exciting quest for heavy music.

Steve and Dave kick off the band’s metallic feast with their melodious riffs in Tolling Of The Bell, generating a beautiful base for Harv to shine on vocals in a classic Heavy Metal atmosphere inspired by the golden years of the NWOBHM, and speeding things up the band fires the electrifying title-track Ignite The Machine, where Harv’s piercing vocals are effectively supported by the band’s backing vocals and the unstoppable beats by Davy, bringing to our avid ears elements from the music by Judas Priest, Helloween and Gamma Ray, among other metal giants. After such insane start to the album, we face more of their strident riffs and solos in the also old school My Disease, where Graham and Davy bring forth a thunderous atmosphere with their respective weapons while Harv leads his metal crew with his high-pitched vocal lines, before Davy hammers his drums in the also fast and vibrant Each Setting Sun, with the band’s guitar duo showcasing all their passion for heavy music through their headbanging riffs, therefore maintaining the album at a high level of adrenaline.

Melodic guitar lines ignite another Heavy Metal extravaganza titled Dragon Cartel, heavier and groovier than its predecessors, with Stormzone investing into their darkest side, reminding me of some of their creations from Lucifer’s Factory, whereas in Nothing To Fear, which begins in a Dream Theater’s “Pull Me Under” style blended with 80’s Hard Rock, the sound of the guitars is absolutely heavy, sharp and piercing, resulting in a classic power ballad by the band where Harv puts his heart and soul into declaiming its inspiring lyrics. Then it’s time to venture through the realms of old school Heavy and Power Metal in Revolution, a dancing metal hymn led by Davy’s precise beats and the always powerful vocals by Harv, while Steve and Dave deliver sheer electricity from their awesome shredding and solos. And New Age Necromancer couldn’t have been more traditional and straightforward than this, with the galloping bass by Graham being accompanied by a razor-edged riffage and pounding drums, being highly recommended for having a cold beer while watching Stormzone playing it live on stage.

Bringing forward melodic guitar lines and rumbling bass punches the band delivers the heavy-as-hell Dealer’s Reign infused with modern-day Hard Rock nuances, with the entire band being in total sync (not to mention another passionate performance by Harv on vocals), whereas we’re treated to an 80’s metal feast in Flame That Never Dies, where Harv’s vocals are beautifully supported by smooth acoustic guitars and delicate beats before the band brings pure thunder to the music, resulting in another classic creation showcasing more of their incendiary guitar solos for our total delight. Slightly less creative and exciting than its predecessors, albeit still very enjoyable, Under Her Spell offers the listeners Stormzone’s classic sonority, but without truly taking off (nothing that could harm the album, though), and back to a more ferocious and rebellious sound we have a fantastic ode to all things metal entitled This Is Heavy Metal, where Harv sings about our passion for Heavy Metal and all of our heroes the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Manowar and Black Sabbath, while his bandmates generate a headbanging, groovy and thrilling ambience form start to finish. Moreover, have fun with the song’s last part, trying to identify all classic bands, albums and songs mentioned by Harv in the lyrics.

As mentioned in our review for their 2018 album Lucifer’s Factory, the guys from Stormzone live and breathe Heavy Metal, which is the main reason why they keep delivering exciting music album after album, with Ignite The Machine being no exception to that. Hence, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to listen to more of their music on Spotify and on YouTube, and of course don’t forget to support Harv and his bandmates by purchasing Ignite The Machine from the Metalapolis Records webstore  as a CD + LP bundle or as an LP + digital download bundle, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. Stormzone definitely re-ignited their metal machine in their new album, proving once again that they’ll never sell out and that they will always be loyal to their foundations. Because this, my friends, is Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Ignite The Machine, Revolution, Flame That Never Dies and This Is Heavy Metal.

Worst moments of the album: Under Her Spell.

Released in 2020 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. Tolling Of The Bell 5:45
2. Ignite The Machine 4:26
3. My Disease 4:54
4. Each Setting Sun 4:58
5. Dragon Cartel 5:12
6. Nothing To Fear 4:00
7. Revolution 3:49
8. New Age Necromancer 6:21
9. Dealer’s Reign 5:57
10. Flame That Never Dies 5:08
11. Under Her Spell 5:32
12. This Is Heavy Metal 5:31

Band members
John “Harv” Harbinson – vocals
Steve Moore – guitars
Dave Shields – guitars
Graham McNulty – bass, backing vocals
Davy Bates – drums

Album Review – Paradise Lost / Obsidian (2020)

The overlords of doom return with another majestic album, exploring the unknown and opening new horizons with their awe-inspiring music.

Still reigning supreme as the overlords of doom after over three decades on the road, Halifax, England-based Doom Metal act Paradise Lost never gets tired of stunning us all with their refined hybrid of old school Doom and Death Metal with 80’s and contemporary Gothic Metal and Rock, proving why they’ve maintained their relevance in the world of heavy music without disappointing their loyal fans not even once in their vast career. Now in 2020 it’s time for frontman Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen to darken the skies once again with Obsidian, their sixteenth studio album and the follow-up to their latest releases Medusa, from 2017, and The Plague Within, released in 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orgone Studios, with additional recordings done at Black Planet, and featuring a cryptic artwork by British artist Adrian Baxter, Obsidian might not be considered a classic yet like Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but I’m sure the album will reach its deserved cult status soon based on the amazing quality of the music found throughout its 47 astonishing minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes from the deluxe edition).

The gorgeous guest violin by Spanish musician Alicia Nurho adds a touch of finesse to the opening track Darker Thoughts, led by the always enfolding, deep vocals by Nick, sounding utterly grandiose, epic and doomed, and with Waltteri displaying all his refined skills behind his drum set. Then in Fall from Grace the band keeps slamming our heads mercilessly with their crushing riffage and damned beats, all led by Nick’s obscure roars while Steve makes the earth rumble with his bass (not to mention Greg’s hypnotizing solo), whereas Steve kicks off the 80’s-inspired dark tune titled Ghosts, enhanced by a brilliant performance by Nick with his Stygian vocals while his bandmates bring endless groove and electricity to the song from start to finish. And bringing forward contemplative lyrics that reek of modern-day poetry (“I’m tired of dreams, I’m tired of almost everything / Dreams deceive and living never lasts. / Too tired to sleep, denial of grief awakes my sins / Too weak to breathe, from living in deaths hands”), The Devil Embraced is another lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal spearheaded by Waltteri’s classic drums and the strident riffs by both Greg and Aaron.

Ominous sounds embellish the ambience in the also somber and heavy-as-hell Forsaken, where Nick is once again flawless on vocals supported by the slashing guitars by Greg and Aaron, while Steve and Waltteri sound absolutely thunderous with their respective instruments. After such dense tune, it’s time to bang our heads in darkness to the sound of Serenity, a hammering fusion of Doom and Death Metal tailored for admirers of the genre, also presenting some welcome breaks and variations, tons of progressiveness and the always macabre roars by Nick, followed by Ending Days, where Alicia returns with her gentle violin while the band gets back to a more serene and melancholic vibe, showcasing all their versatility and talent. Furthermore, the impact of the guitars and drums combined to the overall result is majestic, which can also be said about Hope Dies Young, featuring backing vocals by American singer Heather Mackintosh (Tapping the Vein), a very pleasant and enfolding sonority, and another round of their unique and stylish lyrics (“How could you know? / As pure as driven snow / Through a winter of descent / The splintered argument / Such a withering lament / Hopes will die young / Hopes will die young now”). The last song of the regular version of Obsidian, titled Ravenghast, brings to our ears a classic Paradise Lost sound, reminding me of some of their old school compositions from Draconian Times, with the level of heaviness and melancholy being beautifully insane while Waltteri blasts his drums in the best Doom Metal way possible and Nick fires his deep, demonic growls. If you decide to purchase the deluxe edition of Obsidian you’ll face the bonus tracks Hear the Night and Defiler, both very solid and classy Doom Metal compositions presenting all the elements we learned to love form the band’s distinguished music, making it totally worth the investment.

I guess I don’t need to ask you to take a good listen at Obsidian in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the band, and of course don’t forget to keep the fires of doom burning by purchasing your copy of the album by clicking HERE, and to follow Paradise Lost on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you search for the meaning of “obsidian” online, you’ll find out it’s a volcanic glass that’s supposed to be truth-enhancing, a strongly protective stone which forms a shield against negativity, blocking psychic attack and absorbing negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension, stimulating growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. There couldn’t be a better representation of the new album by Paradise Lost, as their brand new opus is indeed a work-of-art perfect for heightening our senses and opening our minds and hearts for the glory of doom.

Best moments of the album: Darker Thoughts, Ghosts, Serenity and Ravenghast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Darker Thoughts 5:46
2. Fall from Grace 5:42
3. Ghosts 4:35
4. The Devil Embraced 6:08
5. Forsaken 4:30
6. Serenity 4:46
7. Ending Days 4:36
8. Hope Dies Young 4:02
9. Ravenghast 5:30

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
10. Hear the Night 5:34
11. Defiler 4:45

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead & rhythm guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musicians
Alicia Nurho – violin on “Darker Thoughts” and “Ending Days”
Heather Mackintosh – backing vocals on “Hopes Die Young”

Album Review – Häxan / White Noise (2020)

Three Welsh girls are ready to bring the noise armed with their first full-length album, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

With an impressive array of live shows and festivals under their belt, including Download Festival, Monsters Of Rock Cruise, Rock The Boat Cruise and Hard Rock Hell, Cardiff, Wales-based all-female Hard Rock trio Häxan is ready to take the world of rock and metal by storm with their brand new album White Noise, a lecture in classic rock tailored for fans of the music by Led Zeppelin, Suzi Quatro, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Recorded at Stompbox Studios in Wales, the album was produced, mixed and mastered by Todd Campbell (Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons), who’s helped lead singer and guitarist Sam Bolderson, bassist Harriet Wadeson and drummer Jess Hartley reach a higher level with their music, all embraced by a straightforward and strong artwork by Matt Riste Illustration, and if you think the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the girls from embellishing the airwaves with their music you’re absolutely wrong. “We debated postponing the album launch until there was more certainty in our (and your) lives. We ultimately decided that so many of our fans and friends had been asking for this album for so long, that it was only right to continue with its launch and hopefully help to give everyone a little something to look forward to. We want White Noise to be able to mask the sounds of the uncertain outside world that’s around all of us currently, to allow people to escape it. It’s an opportunity to shut everything else out and enjoy the incredible potency of music.”

Let’s cut to the chase as it’s time to rock together with the girls from Häxan in the opening tune Damned If You Do, presenting elements from classic rock with the electrifying punk-ish sound blasted by bands like Volbeat, with Jess sounding fantastic on drums while Sam delivers sheer adrenaline with her spot-on riffs, followed by Killing Time, a mid-tempo headbanging tune led by the pounding drums by Jess accompanied by the crushing bass punches by Harriet, bringing a Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” vibe and, therefore, resulting in a lesson in 80’s Rock N’ Roll for admirers of the genre. After such great start the band offers us all Nine Lives, a Volbeat/Misfits-inspired composition by the trio where Sam and Harriet slash their strings beautifully while Sam blasts her delicate but potent vocals for our total delight. Needless to say, this is an amazing option for their live performances, which is also the case with Grave Digger, where the band ventures through more Blues-ish, Southern Rock lands. Furthermore, Sam poetically declaims the song’s lyrics while Jess keeps the song’s pace smooth and vibrant at the same time, not to mention the thrilling guitar solo blasted by Sam. And they keep smashing their instruments powerfully in the Hard Rock extravaganza Louder Than Words, with Harriet and Jess making the earth tremble with their thunderous bass and drums, also bringing to our avid ears soulful guitar riffs and solos and endless stamina.

In Black Sheep the trio gets back to a darker and groovier sonority, with Harriet hammering our heads with her fiery bass while Sam brings forward more of her charming vocals, sounding almost like a grim, badass rock ballad, whereas uniting the groove of Southern Rock with the old school Hard Rock by AC/DC Häxan offer us all the dancing Crash and Burn, with Sam’s vocals being nicely complemented by some crisp backing vocals, rockin’ guitar riffs and incendiary solos. In the flammable Skeletons, we’re treated to a high-speed, dirty pounding Rock N’ Roll party by the girls where Jess is unstoppable on drums, providing Sam all she needs to scream the song’s catchy chorus flawlessly (“Your skeletons are out to play, you thought you’d take them to your grave / You’ll always be the second best to demons that you’d laid to rest / Your skeletons are running wild, haunting you til the day you die / You believe what’s done is done, but you won’t ever run / From all your skeletons, skeletons”), before Living Dead closes the album in great fashion, albeit not as inspiring as the rest of the album, but still showcasing all the dexterity of the girls with Jess once again kicking ass with her beats together with Harriet’s rumbling bass jabs.

The talented and hardworking girls from Häxan are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on Spotify to rock your world like there’s no tomorrow, bu of course in order to show them your true support and to prove you deserve a place in the Rock N’ Roll heaven, go grab your copy of White Noise from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In a nutshell, White Noise might not be a revolution in rock music, but that has never been the band’s intention anyway. Sam, Harriet and Jess just want to play pure, unfiltered rock music and give us all a very good reason for smiling, banging our heads and dancing the night away. After two astounding releases, those being their 2017 debut EP Breaking Down the Walls and now the top-of-the-line White Noise, what’s next for the girls from Häxan? Well, only time will tell, but we can all rest assured they will never sell out and will keep bringing the noise to our avid ears for many years to come, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Damned If You Do, Nine Lives and Skeletons.

Worst moments of the album: Living Dead.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Damned If You Do 4:50
2. Killing Time 4:07
3. Nine Lives 4:45
4. Grave Digger 5:03
5. Louder Than Words 4:07
6. Black Sheep 5:35
7. Crash and Burn 4:07
8. Skeletons 5:34
9. Living Dead 4:27

Band members
Sam Bolderson – vocals, guitar
Harriet Wadeson – bass
Jess Hartley – drums