Album Review – Frogg / A Reptilian Dystopia EP (2020)

A short and sweet stash of riffs, licks and raw emotion inoculated over the years, poured out into the world in the form of modern and thrilling Technical Death Metal.

Formed in 2019 in Stamford, a town in Delaware County, New York, United States, the unrelenting Modern and Technical Death Metal project known as Frogg has been in the works for years in the mind of Sky Moon Clark, and over the years he has been inoculating a stash of riffs, licks and raw emotion, which will now be poured out into the world in the form of the band’s debut EP beautifully entitled A Reptilian Dystopia. Comprised of the aforementioned Sky Moon Clark on lead vocals and guitars, Liam Zintz-Kunkel on rhythm guitars, Siebe Sol Sijpkens on bass, Emma Rae on keyboards and backing vocals and Anthony Barrone on drums, Frogg are one of those bands highly recommended for metalheads looking for something new and creative, especially fans of Obscura, Arsis, Necrophagist and Born of Osiris, blending the violence from classic Death Metal with modern and innovative sounds from the current music scene.

Produced and mixed by Shane Stanton, mastered by Ermin Hamidovic (Systematic Productions), distributed by Distrokid, and featuring a devilish artwork by Yann Kempen and Bertrand Lefebvree, the short and sweet A Reptilian Dystopia will certainly put a smile on your face while you headbang to each one of its four well-engendered and classy tracks. “Our EP is kind of our raw sound put on a plate without much refinement, but it’s still the basic punch and flavour Frogg has to offer. Just think of the EP as our base, while our in-the-works Album I (expected 2021/2022) will be a more fleshed out form of Frogg with an emphasized focus on the overall songs start to finish,” said Mr. Sky Moon Clark himself about the future material Frogg intend to release.

Right from the very first second in Ancient Rain we can enjoy tons of intricacy and insanity flowing from all instruments, while the song’s austere lyrics are effectively vociferated by Sky Moon (“Surrender to the ancient rain / Greed is all there is to blame / No vaccination to this strain / ‘Til earth is free of human stain / Deep below the monster waits / Under ice and time and space”). Not only that, Anthony slams his drums majestically, with the song also showcasing a great riffage sync between Sky Moon and Liam in what’s a bestial and fun feast of Technical Death Metal. Then groovier and more atmospheric than the opening tune thanks to the thunderous bass by Siebe and the whimsical keys by Emma, Nuclear Storm is a two-minute explosion of aggression and progressiveness led by Anthony’s nonstop beats and fills, maintaining the EP at a very high level of acidity and heaviness.

Strident guitars ignite the metallic extravaganza titled DNA, even more atmospheric than its predecessors and once again showcasing more of their cryptic lyrics (“I refuse to accept this rusty machine / As my sole source of bibliography / Further corrupting our genes / A modification delivering new geography / Dip your brain through your poison”). Put differently, it’s a multi-layered display of the band’s dexterity, with its piercing riffs being effectively intertwined with crushing beats and rumbling bass jabs, not to mention Sky Moon’s awesome closing solo as the icing on the cake. Following such dense composition we have the also amazing Ranidaphobia, which by the way means fear of frogs and toads, bringing forward sheer violence, dementia and rage in the form of Technical Death Metal by Frogg, alternating between the savagery led by Anthony’s visceral drums and the delicate keys and vocalizations by Emma, with the song’s ending being absolutely climatic for our total delight. And as a bonus to their fans, Frogg close the EP with an instrumental version of Ancient Rain, blasting our ears with their refined techniques and deep passion for heavy music.

A member of ASCAP (or the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), Sky Moon Clark and his Frogg are looking for guitarists, bassists and drummers in the New York City area to join him and Emma Rae for their live performances, and if you’re a musician looking for a good challenge the likes of Frogg simply get in touch with them on Facebook. In addition, if you want to support such up-and-coming band from New York, you can purchase A Reptilian Dystopia from the project’s own BandCamp page or from Distrokid. In a nutshell, A Reptilian Dystopia might already be a very entertaining album of metal music, but let’s not forget it’s only the first step (or maybe I should say the first leap) in the promising career of Frogg, which fortunately means we can rest assured we’ll be hearing from Sky Moon and his band a lot more in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: DNA and Ranidaphobia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Ancient Rain 3:23
2. Nuclear Storm 2:05
3. DNA 7:29
4. Ranidaphobia 3:47
5. Ancient Rain (Instrumental) 3:24

Band members
Sky Moon Clark – lead vocals, guitars
Liam Zintz-Kunkel – rhythm guitar
Siebe Sol Sijpkens – bass
Emma Rae – keyboards, backing vocals
Anthony Barrone – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Nadja Peulen

Say it, Nadja! We’re out for blood!

As part of our annual tradition here at The Headbanging Moose, the first metal chick of the year must be a badass bass player to properly kick things off with a lot of thunder and heaviness just the way we like it in Heavy Metal, and in 2020 that couldn’t be any different than that, of course. Having said that, get ready to venture through the realms of Alternative and Nu Metal with the one and only Nadja Peulen, a German-born bassist and backing vocalist currently based in Los Angeles, California, in the United States known for bringing tons of groove to our avid ears as the bassist for American metallers Coal Chamber from 1999 to 2000, again between 2002 and 2003, and one last time after a huge band hiatus from 2013 until 2016 when the group disbanded once and for all.

Born on January 10, 1975 somewhere in the always beautiful Germany, our 1.73m-tall blue-eyed, red-haired bassist started her life in music at a very early age due to her family travelling a lot and staying at several different places, always on the road in the name of Rock N’ Roll, always surrounded by distinct people, and always attending music concerts. Of Polish and German descent, Nadja grew up in the Netherlands and listened to a lot of 70’s music such as Motown, disco and classic rock at home because of her parents, being highly influenced by those styles in her current way of playing bass. Originally starting out studying art with aspirations to be a painter, Nadja naturally decided to switch to music, playing drums before becoming a bassist and continuing her career as a drummer after moving to Los Angeles when she was only 18, learning from renowned drummers and jamming with several different musicians (while at the same time working in different jobs such as tiling bathrooms and working as a waitress in a strip bar).

After a while, when Nadja decided she wanted to get more into songwriting, she was given a bass guitar (a cheap $100 one, by the way) and started playing with one finger only, gradually evolving to a couple more fingers and never having a single lesson in her life. Three months later, she was already in an all-girl band named Tail, playing around Hollywood for a couple of years at Whisky a Go Go, The Viper Room and whatever clubs were there at the time. After a couple of years, Nadja was invited to join Los Angeles-based Nu Metal outfit Coal Chamber in 1999 while bassist Rayna Foss-Rose was on maternity leave, and again after the recording of the 2002 album Dark Days when Rayna left the band for good, playing live with the band in several domestic and international tours with bands like Drowning Pool co-headlining the tours. Despite not having recorded the bass lines in Dark Days, Nadja is featured in the official video for Fiend, one of the band’s most well known songs which is thought to be about how the band and the Nu Metal genre were getting heavily criticized at the time. In addition, Nadja was also featured as the band’s bass player in the excellent concert Live at the Maritime Hall, San Francisco, CA, 1999 in the bonus DVD from the 2005 special re-release of their 1997 debut album Coal Chamber.

Then after a long period of silence from 2003 until 2011, Coal Chamber reunited for a short run of international shows with bassist Chela Rhea Harper instead of Nadja, but our talented red-haired bassist officially returned to the band in October 2013 shortly before the band signed to Napalm Records to record a new album. “Beyond happy and excited today to announce my return on bass with Coal Chamber,” Nadja wrote on the day of her official return to the band. “I’ve missed my brothers and can’t wait to rock the stage with them again and see all of you!” It was in May 2015 that Coal Chamber released their fourth album in thirteen years and their only studio album with Nadja on bass, entitled Rivals, adding a touch of Groove Metal to their musicality while at the same time distancing themselves from their previous Gothic Metal style. From Rivals, you can enjoy Nadja’s rumbling bass punching you in the face in songs like Another Nail In The Coffin, Suffer In Silence (featuring Ministry’s driving force Al Jourgensen on guest vocals), and I.O.U. Nothing.

Apart from her awesome stints with Coal Chamber, Nadja was also the bass player and backing vocalist for a Los Angeles-based Theatrical/Alternative Avantgarde Rock duo known as Vera Mesmer, together with vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Christopher Mesmer, formerly of Reveille, as well as guest drummer Bones Elias (Julien K, formerly of Dead by Sunrise), from 2010 until 2013. Vera Mesmer left two very interesting releases to the world before the duo parted ways in 2013, those being the 2012 EP Orphans and the 2013 single Down the Hole, showing a different and very theatrical storytelling side of both Chris and Nadja, as you can see for example in the official video for the song Back from the Dead. “We’re constantly brainstorming and creating. We’ve completely let go of templates and we don’t stick to the genre game,” said Nadja about the artistic freedom she found with Vera Mesmer while the band was still active. “We encompass all music styles while still undeniably retaining that Vera Mesmer sound.”

You can also find Nadja lending her thunderous bass lines to a project entitled Roadrunner United from 2005 to 2008, having recorded the excellent single and video The End together with Dino Cazares (Fear Factory), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour) and Matt Heafy (Trivium), among others, for the 2005 album The All-Star Sessions, as well as the 2008 DVD featuring a making of and a live concert with several artists such as Ville Valo (HIM), Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Tim “Ripper” Owens, with Nadja kicking some serious ass in songs like Type O Negative’s all-time classic Black No. 1 together with Ville Valo on vocals, Andreas Kisser on lead guitar, Dino Cazares on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards, and Tired ‘n Lonely together with Mina Caputo on vocals, Matt Baumbach on lead guitar, Acey Slade on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards. Furthermore, between 2004 and 2006, Nadja was also featured in the music videos for the songs (Rock) Superstar and What’s Your Number? as part of the backup band with Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Christian Olde Wobbers (Fear Factory), both by American Hip-Hop group Cypress Hill.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As already mentioned, Nadja has a wide and eclectic taste for music, with her primary influences lying along the Trip Hop, Industrial and Alternative Rock and Metal vein the likes of Massive Attack, Killing Joke, The Cult, Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, Ministry, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, David Bowie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad and Stevie Wonder, with the one and only Iggy Pop being part of one of the most exciting moments in her career. A friend of hers called Whitney, who used to play guitar for Iggy Pop, invited Nadja for a jamming session one day, but she initially said no. “Why don’t you come down to the Swinghouse and jam with me and a couple of friends?”, said Whitney, and she promptly answered “Well I’m in bed. My bass is dusty and I’m watching TV. I really don’t feel like jamming with you right now.” Whitey called back a couple of times and finally said, “Well, it’s Iggy and he wants to jam with you.” Nadja didn’t believe her friend, saying “Yeah you’re fucking with me. You just want me to come down there and hang out.” Then she got another phone call from Iggy’s manager, which turned out to be his son Eric. He said, “Yeah, Iggy Pop is down here and he really, really wants to jam with you.” She still thought it was a prank, when she finally got a phone call from Iggy himself where she recognized his voice and nearly pissed her pants. Iggy said, “Nadja, I have heard a lot of really good things about you. I want to jam with you. Come down here – can you be here in 10 minutes?” Needless to say, Nadja joined her idol and they jammed for a few hours, with Nadja later saying in one of her interviews that she was always afraid to meet someone like Iggy Pop because she believed a person like that would probably be an asshole and she would never be able to listen to his music the same way. However, he was really nice to her, a humble guy exactly how anyone would expect.

Regarding her life on the road with Coal Chamber, Nadja mentioned in one of her interviews that she really loved playing the songs Another Nail In The Coffin and Bad Blood Between Us live with the band, both from the album Rivals, and that she would have loved to be in a tour co-headlined by Coal Chamber, System Of A Down and Korn, the latter with whom Coal Chamber only played at the same festivals such as Heavy Montreal in 2015 and Graspop Metal Meeting in 2013. When questioned about the fact she was the only female on the tours with Coal Chamber, she said that it was indeed challenging as she had for example to get dressed in the bathroom of the bus, which was a very small space. However, Nadja also said she was fine being the only girl in a “boy’s club”, complementing by saying that being utterly professional was what kept everything working well. Also, on a side note, Nadja mentioned being on stage, being in that moment, is when her mind stops and she can achieve some peace of mind, having also achieved that peace by doing yoga, more specifically Kundalini Yoga, a school of yoga influenced by Shaktism and Tantra schools of Hinduism.

Nadja also launched in 2003 her own T-shirt and apparel company called CruelTees, selling her products not only online but also through stores such as Hot Topic. Owner and head designer of CruelTees, Nadja has always loved painting and sketching, having even been in Art Academy before quitting it to move to Los Angeles, with her designs fusing dark Gothic and wild Rock N’ Roll images with clever slogans. However, if you click on the official website for CruelTees, it will redirect you to her website Sonic Dominion without any products available. There are a few items in her webshop, though, but nothing related to CruelTees. Perhaps Nadja is working on a new collection for the future? If you’re curious to know more about CruelTees and ask Nadja for any updates on the brand, you can message her directly through her official website contact form, and who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the first to receive news on a new series of CruelTees shirts and apparel.

Endorsed by Schecter Guitars, Mesa Boogie, Dean Markley Strings, Monster Energy Drink and Monster Cable, our skillful bassist, who by the way thinks labeling a music style is not really that relevant, commented in one of her interviews that she’s happy to see an increasing number of female bass players (as well as guitarists and drummers) out in the market playing with their bands, which is always a good thing in heavy music, also saying she likes the fact that several of those bassists are adopting the finger style when playing their instruments, something that was a taboo in the past. Nadja herself is a finger bass player, as mentioned before, and the fact this old school technique is becoming popular again brings a lot of joy to her heart. And last but not least, Nadja’s relationship with her fans is quite healthy, with some of her fans even becoming her personal friends. She said that she can’t obviously answer everything to everyone due to her busy schedule, as she doesn’t consider herself an Internet person with enough time for social media. She actually doesn’t enjoy engaging on social media on a personal level, focusing on her work as a musician and as a designer instead. We have to agree with Nadja on that, and if you want to know more about her professional career you can either follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or watch some of her interviews and other videos on YouTube like the BIAS FX demo, an interview during Heavy Montreal in 2015, an interview to INDIEPOWER TV! in 2015, or an interview she gave to Dean Markley at NAMM also in 2015. What are you waiting for to let one of the most badass female bassists of all time show you all she got? Nadja kicks some serious ass, and she will crush you like an insect with her thunderous bass, no doubt about that.

Nadja Peulen’s Official Facebook page
Nadja Peulen’s Official Instagram
Nadja Peulen’s Official Twitter
Nadja Peulen’s Official YouTube channel
Coal Chamber’s Official Facebook page
Coal Chamber’s Official Instagram
Coal Chamber’s Official Twitter

“To me being on stage and playing music is one of the best things because I have a very busy mind – I’m always thinking.” – Nadja Peulen

Album Review – Vampiric / The Magic of the Night (2019)

An insatiable lust for blood and passion for the night will grow inside you to the sound of the debut album by this American Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal one-man army.

My dear creatures of the night, it’s time to join a Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal one-man army formed in 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States that goes by the straightforward name of Vampiric in his quest for blood with the released of his debut full-length opus The Magic of the Night, offering us all nine original songs that exhale darkness and the sweet smell of fresh blood. As a matter of fact, the true beginnings of Vampiric can be traced back to 2008, when the band’s mastermind, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nik Williams started writing music and recording demos at the young age of 14, eventually forming a full-bodied band and opening for renowned acts like Mayhem, Abigail Williams and Keep of Kalessin. This live lineup disbanded after a while, but Nik kept experimenting with music until the release of his debut EP Death Tore Through, in 2018, ranging from the project’s core Black and Thrash Metal to distinguished styles like Gothic, punk and classical, further developing all that depth and diversity this year with his newborn spawn The Magic of the Night.

The Cradle of Filth-inspired riffs and keys by Nik kick off the phantasmagorical opening track A Death in the Throne Room, an old school Extreme Metal tune reeking aggressiveness, madness and obscurity; and his slashing guitars keep dictating the rhythm in the faster and more exciting Vampire Blood, where not only we’re treated to poetic lyrics (“I wake from a deathlike slumber / And gaze at the harvest moon in the night sky / Bloodlust, the children of the night sing / As I fly above the land of broken hearts”), but once again Nik generates a cryptic paradox between his atmospheric keys and enraged growls. And if you’re still hungry for human flesh it’s time for over six minutes of pitch black darkness and blood in The Full Moon Rising, with his keys sounding as strident and piercing as usual, while at the same time he kicks ass on drums, resulting in sheer adrenaline in the form of Symphonic Black Metal that sounds and feels hypnotizing and ritualistic form start to finish.

Adding the frantic riffage of Thrash Metal and the complexity of Progressive Metal to his core obscurity, Nik delivers Gothic, This Masquerade, a true masquerade ball feeling like two or three songs in one where our dauntless one-man band goes full thrasher on vocals, reminding me of Exodus original singer Paul Baloff (R.I.P.) at times. Of Bloodlust and the Moon is another display of bestiality and insanity the likes of Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Marduk where Nik’s raspy gnarls and scorching riffs steal the spotlight, and with its last piece being an instrumental shredding extravaganza for our total delight; followed by Nosferatu, filling the airwaves with three minutes of an intense feast of Thrash and Black Metal by Vampiric where the guitars breathe fire while drums are played with tons of violence and rage, all spiced up by Nik’s demonic vociferations.

Then pounding his drums manically Nik offers another circle pit-catalyst entitled The Witch, with its heavier-than-hell riffs being perfectly complemented by somber and piercing background sounds, leaning towards classic Blackened Thrash Metal. And besides, songs about witches are always very enjoyable and fun to listen to, don’t you think? In Carpathian Lycan Curse our talented musician puts the pedal to the metal in a hurricane of cryptic keys and berserk shredding, also presenting elements from bands like Slayer and Misfits added to his traditional sonority, while its catchy chorus is an ode to all wolf-men of the world (“Carpathian lycan curse / Condemned to darkness and blood thirst / Carpathian full moon curse / The wolfs bane blooms to my return”). Lastly, closing the album we have the 11-minute aria of darkness titled The Magic of the Night, living up to the legacy of the emperors of long and intricate extreme music compositions such as Cradle of Filth and their infamous Bathory Aria. Nik does an amazing job throughout the entire song, elevating the electricity of all instruments to new heights and also making the whole ambience absolutely enfolding and Stygian until the very last second.

If you’re more than eager to join Nik’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal coven, simply go check what he’s up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to purchase your copy of The Magic of the Night directly from his own BandCamp page. After listening to such well-crafted, aggressive and melodic album of extreme music, you better be prepared to feel an insatiable lust for blood growing inside you, dragging you into an endless night and keeping you away from sunlight for all eternity. Well, in the end, who doesn’t want to be an immortal, bloodthirsty creature of the night, always accompanied by a good dosage of metal music, right?

Best moments of the album: The Full Moon Rising, Nosferatu and The Witch.

Worst moments of the album: A Death in the Throne Room.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. A Death in the Throne Room 6:27
2. Vampire Blood 3:33
3. The Full Moon Rising 6:16
4. Gothic, This Masquerade 7:22
5. Of Bloodlust and the Moon 4:20
6. Nosferatu 3:06
7. The Witch 4:40
8. Carpathian Lycan Curse 6:40
9. The Magic of the Night 10:53

Band members
Nik Williams – vocals, all instruments

Concert Review – Cannibal Corpse (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 11/15/2019)

Over 30 years of evisceration, torture, mutilation, killing, blood and cannibalism in an awesome night of first-class Death Metal in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Perdition Temple and Thy Art Is Murder

I can’t describe in words how happy I am whenever a metal concert is scheduled for a Friday or Saturday night in Toronto, especially when the music in question is old school Death Metal. I mean, we need at least one full day to recover from all the insanity going on in the circle pits, right? And that’s probably why all fans at The Opera House this Friday, November 15 went the extra mile in terms of energy, rage and madness, slamming like it was their last night on earth to the sound of Perdition Temple, Thy Art Is Murder and my favorite Death Metal band of all time, the almighty Cannibal Corpse, pulverizing everything and everyone that crossed their path on a cold but fantastic night in Toronto.

It took forever for the concerts to start, probably because of the huge line that was formed at the door, with security even doing the checks while people were still in line and not right at the entrance. That was an indication that The Opera House was going to be jam packed (and it actually was), and after tons of non-metal songs played by the house DJ for a reason beyond my understanding (well, at least when he played Toto’s classic Africa some metalheads had a good time singing it), the first attraction of the night, Tampa, Florida-based Black/Death Metal horde PERDITION TEMPLE, finally hit the stage and began their short but solid setlist. Formed in 2009 by guitarist Gene Palubicki (from old school cult act Angelcorpse), the trio comprised of Gene together with bassist and vocalist Alex Blume and drummer Ronnie Parmer played a well-balanced setlist including songs from all of their releases, with songs like To Bleed at War, The Tempter’s Victorious and Goddess in Death already igniting some decent circle pits in the floor section. I personally enjoyed their performance a lot, and if you’re curious to know how the music by those Ameircan metallers sounds, simply check their official BandCamp page and, who knows, you might end up adding one of their albums to your devilish collection.

Setlist
The Tempter’s Victorious
Plague Camp
Testament to Annihilation
To Bleed at War
Goddess In Death

Band members
Alex Blume – vocals, bass
Gene Palubicki – guitars, vocals
Ronnie Parmer – drums

After a short break where most fans went either to the bar to grab some cold beer or to the bathroom to make room for more beer,  it was time for Sydney, Australia-based Deathcore outfit THY ART IS MURDER to show Toronto what they got, giving a lesson in slamming with their heavy-as-hell and politicized compositions. Comprised of vocalist Chris “CJ” McMahon, guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh, bassist Kevin Butler and drummer Jesse Beahler, this excellent Deathcore unity from Down Under blasted a demolishing setlist including songs from their newest album Human Target, such as Make America Hate Again and New Gods, which by the way I thought sounded amazing live, with older hits like Reign of Darkness, Fur and Claw and Puppet Master, driving the fans nuts while crushing their skulls inside the humongous mosh pit that dominated the entire floor section as soon as the band began their show. I must say CJ McMahon is not only an extremely talented vocalist, delivering his trademark deep, guttural growls and his inhuman screeches, but he’s also a very charismatic and humble guy, making it visible to everyone at the venue how happy and impressed he was with the reception by his Torontonians fans. After all was said and done, I was able to confirm Thy Art Is Murder is indeed one of the best bands hailing from the current metal scene in Australia, both in studio and when on stage, and after witnessing them live for the first time ever I can’t wait to see when those guys will get back to Toronto for another round of their unrelenting Deathcore.

Setlist
Death Squad Anthem
Make America Hate Again
Fur and Claw
Slaves Beyond Death
Holy War
No Absolution
Human Target
The Son of Misery
New Gods
Reign of Darkness
Puppet Master

Band members
Chris “CJ” McMahon – vocals
Andy Marsh – lead guitar
Sean Delander – rhythm guitar
Kevin Butler – bass
Jesse Beahler – drums

CANNIBAL CORPSE

The wait for the one and only Death Metal institution CANNIBAL CORPSE was finally over when it was getting close to 9:30pm, and from the very first note of the opening track Code of the Slashers, from their latest opus Red Before Black, released in 2017, until the closing moments from their gruesome all-time classic Hammer Smashed Face, it was pure Armageddon in the form of ass-kicking Death Metal. The unstoppable vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (I still don’t know how he can headbang like a beast for so long), guitarists Rob Barret and Erik Rutan (the lead singer and guitarist for Hate Eternal who is filling in on guitar during this tour due to the arrest of guitarist Pat O’Brien), the phenomenal bassist Alex Webster, and the precise drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz set The Opera House on fire with their visceral and absolutely perfect Death Metal, playing “horror classics” from almost all of their albums (which you can find on sale from their own BandCamp page), including my favorite Cannibal Corpse song of all time, Devoured by Vermin, from their 1996 album Vile, and the sensational Kill or Become, from their 2014 album A Skeletal Domain, where you could see several fans “firing up their chainsaws” together with Corpsegrinder. It was so insane I could barely take my phone out for some decent pictures.

Every single time I watch Alex Webster live I get more and more impressed with his technique, feeling and groove, proving why he’s in my opinion the best extreme music bassist of all time. As a matter of fact, how many Death, Thrash and Black Metal bands have bassists that you can actually listen to in detail while performing live? Not only that, but the band’s setlist was also impressive as already mentioned, and that’s probably one of the reasons why Alex and the guys were so brutal and awesome on stage this Friday. Songs like Red Before Black, Gutted, Make Them Suffer and Stripped, Raped and Strangled were the catalyst of some of the most demented circle pits you can imagine, while Scourge of Iron and the demonic Evisceration Plague were perfect for breaking our necks headbanging like maniacs. Another thing that was really entertaining during the band’s flawless performance were all the jokes by Corpsegrinder, showing that behind that brutal headbanging beast there’s a very kind and fun guy. When he offered “NOTHING” from the bottom of his heart to the fans we could see how excited he was with the warm and violent reception from the crowd. And what to say about his personal intro in I Cum Blood, where he dared the fans to try to headbang like him (and, of course, we would all fail miserably in his own words)? That’s what I call a frontman, my friends, never letting the energy go down and always reminding us why the band has been on the road alive and kicking since 1988. When the show was over, you could see many, many fans dripping wet of their own (and others’) sweat and beer leaving the venue without a jacket when the temperature was around -5oC, mostly due to the adrenaline still flowing through their veins, and you know what? That’s when you know there was a damn good Death Metal night in Toronto, obviously spearheaded by our beloved Cannibal Fuckin’ Corpse.

Setlist
Code of the Slashers
Only One Will Die
Red Before Black
Scourge of Iron
Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead
The Wretched Spawn
Devoured by Vermin
Unleashing the Bloodthirsty
Gutted
Kill or Become
A Skull Full of Maggots
Evisceration Plague
Firestorm Vengeance
Death Walking Terror
I Cum Blood
Make Them Suffer
Stripped, Raped and Strangled
Hammer Smashed Face

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Erik Rutan – lead guitar
Rob Barrett – rhythm guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

Album Review – Singularity / Place of Chains (2019)

The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal by a sensational metal unity from Arizona.

Tempe, Arizona-based Technical Death Metal/Symphonic Black Metal hybrid act Singularity is back from outer space to pulverize our senses once again with the release of Places of Chains, the follow-up to their highly acclaimed 2014 self-titled debut album and their 2016 EP Void Walker. Since their formation in 2010, the band now comprised of Jack Fliegler (ToxicxEternity, Hemoptysis) on vocals and guitar, Adam King (Depraved Heretic, Arkaik) on bass and vocals, and Nathan Bigelow (Arkaik, Alterbeast, Solar Impulse) on drums, not to mention keyboardist Nick Pompliano (R.I.P), who sadly passed away during the creation process of the album in 2018, has continually shown themselves to be a forward-thinking act, one with a bold vision built on fusing Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal together in a myriad of ways. In other words, let’s say this talented American entity was capable of uniting the best of both worlds in Place of Chains, bringing forth music that has at the same time the intricacy and aggressiveness of Death Metal with the beauty and mystery of Black Metal, and the final result is absolutely stunning to say the least.

Mixed by Mike Low (Inferi, Oubliette), mastered by Zak Denham (Anagnorisis), and featuring additional orchestrations on every track by Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem) and a futuristic and apocalyptic artwork by Justin Abraham, who has already worked with several excellent bands like Equipoise, Inanimate Existence, Lecherous Nocturne, A Loathing Requiem, Virulent Depravity and Æpoch, among several others, Place of Chains will undoubtedly and strongly appeal to all fans of bands like  Fleshgod Apocalypse, Old Man’s Child, Dimmu Borgir and the first album from Irreversible Mechanism. “Place of Chains is the translation to the song title ‘Desmoterion’ which lyrically illustrates the emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned. Considering that many of the songs on this record lyrically are about enslavement, we felt it was a good over-arching title for the record. We strongly believe that this is the best Singularity record so far. Singularity would also like to thank our guest artists that we had the privilege of having on this record. With every record, we try to further hone in on what the core of Singularity’s sound is and what we want to bring to the world of metal,” commented the band on the release of their newborn spawn.

Bellum, a cinematic and incendiary intro led by the futuristic orchestrations by guest Malcolm Pugh, sets the stage for Singularity to smash us all in Victory or Death, featuring Jared Christianson (Arkaik) as a guest vocalist.  Showcasing lyrics that invite us all to war (“Let the games begin / Your legions are chosen for a tournament / Worthy of the ages / The astral arena beckons your names”), this is a first-class Technical Death Metal tune where Jack is astounding with his riffs and solos while Nathan sounds like a stone crusher on drums, not to mention the intricacy and groove flowing from Adam’s bass. And in Sisyphean Cycle an ominous intro evolves into a doom-ish feast of Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir infused with Death Metal nuances, where Adam continues to impress with his thunderous bass jabs while the keys by Nick bring an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result.

Guest vocalist Jeremy Davis (Animus Complex) brings his own dosage of lunacy to Ritual of Regret (by the way, check the band’s amazing guitar playthrough for it HERE), a song that begins in full force spearheaded by Nathan and his insane beats while Jack and Nick have a healthy and thrilling “riffs-versus-keys duel”, leaning towards pure Symphonic Black Metal at times. Furthermore, all of their roars reach a true demonic level as the music progresses, also bringing to our ears sensational razor-edged guitar solos. Back to a more technical mode, Singularity offer us all Consume and Assume, a fast and intricate Death Metal chant perfect for slamming into the pit, all embraced by the whimsical keys by Nick and also featuring a guest guitar solo by Nick Padovani (Equipoise, Virulent Depravity), who co-composed the song with the band; whereas in Desmoterion you better get ready for over seven minutes of pulverizing Technical Death and Black Metal with all band members being in absolute and demonic sync, bringing forth an imposing and epic atmosphere for our total delight. The song’s vocals couldn’t sound more infernal and wicked than this, as well as its piercing guitar solos and all breaks and variations, resulting in a full-bodied aria by this talented metal unity.

In the berserk Serpentes, Eternal not a single space in the air is left empty, with the Stygian words vociferated by Jack and Adam (“Far below / Beneath black earth and snow and decay / Residing under ice and rot, they seek / Surface world never knows / Eyes like fire, these Serpentine / Hearts beat steady as the ancient ones”) shining amidst a feast of slashing riffs and solos, rumbling bass lines and unstoppable blast beats, followed by Dead Receptors, co-composed by Singularity and John Low (the band’s former drummer), which sounds like a hybrid between classic and a more technical version of Death Metal with a stylish twist, as if it was a dark and devilish “waltz” where the vocal lines alternate between obscure Black Metal moments and full Death Metal roars. And last but not least, As Dark as This Nefarious Night is another onrush of darkened and complex sounds by Singularity where Nathan once again delivers sheer violence on drums, while Jack and Adam make our heads tremble with their respective riffs and bass punches, ending in a visceral and epic manner.

You can enjoy this striking album of technical and symphonic extreme music in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to the guys from Singularity, and as a tribute to the deceased Nick Pompliano, you should definitely purchase your copy of the album from The Artisan Era Records’ webstore, from Singularity’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on their official Facebook page, as I’m sure the band would love to hear your thoughts on Place of Chains. Now it’s time for Singularity to give life to their creations on stage while promoting their new album (which means you should definitely keep an eye on their live tour announcements) before heading back to their spacecraft and begining the writing process of their new material, and I personally can’t wait to see what those skillful and hardworking guys from Arizona will provide us in their future releases.

Best moments of the album: Victory or Death, Ritual of Regret and Desmoterion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Bellum 2:44
2. Victory or Death 3:39
3. Sisyphean Cycle 6:26
4. Ritual of Regret 3:07
5. Consume and Assume 4:50
6. Desmoterion 7:07
7. Serpentes, Eternal 4:39
8. Dead Receptors 4:03
9. As Dark as This Nefarious Night 5:08

Band members
Jack Fliegler – vocals, guitar
Adam King – vocals, bass
Nick Pompliano (R.I.P) – keyboards
Nathan Bigelow – drums

Guest musicians
Malcolm Pugh – additional orchestrations
Jared Christianson – vocals on “Victory or Death”
Jeremy Davis – vocals on “Ritual of Regret”
Nick Padovani – guitar solo on “Consume and Assume”

Album Review – Iced Earth / Horror Show (2001)

Are you looking for the ultimate Heavy Metal soundtrack to spice up your Halloween party? Mr. Jon Schaffer and his henchmen can definitely help you with that.

IcedEarth-HorrorShowTampa, Florida-based Power/Thrash Metal veterans Iced Earth might be one of the most underrated bands in the history of heavy music, and I believe they’re not bigger or more famous due to Mr. Jon Schaffer’s fickle temper, which has resulted in countless (and unstable) lineup changes in the history of the band, lowering any expectations a fan might have about their future. I personally don’t care that much about the mood of any musician, as long as this doesn’t negatively affect the overall quality of the music. Take a look at Dave Mustaine and Dani Filth, for example, and you’ll notice there are some changes in their music, but the core essence of Megadeth and Cradle of Filth is always there for the delight of their fans. Due to those constant changes you never know exactly what to expect from Iced Earth, as they sometimes deliver really bad material, but fortunately for all of us their 2001 album Horror Show showcases the Iced Earth we all want to listen to, sounding powerful, well-engendered and, above all, very creative and entertaining.

Horror Show is not just a traditional Heavy Metal album, also bringing a lot of the energy from Power Metal and some of the violence found in Thrash Metal, and that’s in my opinion the best “formula” Jon and his crew can offer us. Furthermore, it’s kind of  a concept album focused on different horror stories, making it even more interesting for Heavy Metal fans that also enjoy reading a frightful book or going to the movies to see a good dosage of monsters and blood. For instance, all songs on the album are based on classic horror films, from werewolves to vampires and mummies, and many of the lyrics are lifted directly from the source material, proving that when Jon doesn’t let his personal issues interfere in his music, the final result is always fantastic. Add to all that some incredibly talented musicians like Matt Barlow on vocals, Larry Tarnowski on the lead guitar, Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) on bass and Richard Christy (Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) on drums, and there you have the utmost recipe for awesomeness.

Wolf, the first track of the album inspired by The Wolf Man films, is an excellent heavy song to kick things off, showing why Jon is considered by many one of the best riff-makers in Heavy Metal. The speed of the song and its grinding riffs give it an amazing Thrash Metal touch, not to mention its chorus inspired by a poem that is recited in the 1941 film The Wolf Man, making any fan excited for the rest of the album. Then we have Damien, inspired by The Omen films, presenting outstanding lyrics that make a lot of sense if you have read the book or seen the movies like I’ve done (“When the Jews return to Zion / And a comet fills the sky / The Holy Roman Empire rises / And you and I must die”). As a matter of fact, the chorus was taken from the 1976 film The Omen, and the spoken section was adapted from a speech in its 1981 sequel, Omen III: The Final Conflict, just to give you a sense of how detailed this song is. Things get even better in Jack, inspired by the one and only Jack the Ripper, with Jon slashing our ears with his riffs in great “Ripper” fashion. Moreover, perhaps the funniest thing about this song is that Horror Show was the last studio album (apart from their album of cover songs called Tribute to the Gods, from 2002) Matt recorded before Tim “Ripper” Owens (The Ripper himself!) joined the band in 2003 and recorded The Glorious Burden in 2004, which is for me one of their best and most consistent albums of all.

The album continues with Ghost of Freedom, the only song that wasn’t inspired by any horror movie or character. It’s a very beautiful ballad and one of the top moments of the whole album, showing us a more “romantic” side of Jon and how good Matt’s voice can be even when he’s not screaming. The following three songs might not be masterpieces, but they surely keep the album at a high level of adrenaline and epicness. Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse) (inspired by The Mummy), Jekyll & Hyde (inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and Dragon’s Child (inspired by Creature from the Black Lagoon) not only have amazing concepts, but the music itself is very pleasant and cohesive, embracing us all and pulling us deeper into the world of horror created by the band throughout the entire album.

IcedEarth_Promo2001Frankenstein (“surprisingly” inspired by Frankenstein) is even better than those three tracks, raising your energy level and making you want to headbang like a crazy motherfucker, followed by the best song of Horror Show without a shadow of a doubt, the stunning Dracula (also “astoundingly” inspired by Dracula), a metal masterpiece that’s absolutely flawless from start to finish, presenting to the listener the duo Jon and Matt at the peak of their forms. This is an all-time fan favorite and a mandatory track in any of the band’s live setlists, also bringing to our avid ears ass-kicking lyrics (“Do you believe in love? / Do you believe in destiny? / True love may come only once in a thousand lifetimes…”). Lastly, we have The Phantom Opera Ghost, obviously inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, and despite all the additional elements and musicians it sounds too pretentious and doesn’t deliver what the fans are actually expecting.

The limited edition has a bonus disc with two totally opposite moments: an incredible cover for Iron Maiden’s Transylvania, where Jon does what he does best with his guitar; and a tedious interview with him that lasts for over an hour. I guess there’s a one-disc version of Horror Show that includes Transylvania as a regular track, so if I were you that’s the one I would buy. And finally, one thing that Iced Earth have always delivered are stunning album arts. The band’s own mascot, Set Abominae, might not be part of the compositions this time, but he certainly makes the front cover of Horror Show designed by Danny Miki and Travis Smith darkly captivating. In a nutshell, Horror Show, which makes the already distant year of 2001 look like it just happened yesterday, is a mandatory choice for that Heavy Metal Halloween party you’re planning with your friends (as well as a good source of inspiration for your costumes), or maybe you can just dress up as Jon Schaffer and walk around your neighborhood playing some of the tracks from Horror Show on your guitar, how about that? We could even call this new Halloween tradition as “Trick or Thrash”.

Best moments of the album: Wolf, Damien, Ghost of Freedom, Dracula and Transylvania.

Worst moments of the album: The Phantom Opera Ghost.

Released in 2001 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Wolf 5:20
2. Damien 9:12
3. Jack 4:14
4. Ghost of Freedom 5:12
5. Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse) 4:45
6. Jekyll & Hyde 4:39
7. Dragon’s Child 4:21
8. Frankenstein 3:50
9. Dracula 5:54
10. The Phantom Opera Ghost 8:41

Limited Edition Disc Two
11. Transylvania (Iron Maiden cover) 4:30
12. Interview with Jon Schaffer (conducted by Sumit Chandra) 69:27

Band members
Matt Barlow – vocals
Jon Schaffer – guitar
Larry Tarnowski – lead guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – bass
Richard Christy – drums

Guest musicians
Yunhui Percifield – lead vocals on “The Phantom Opera Ghost” as “Christine”, backing vocals
Jim Morris – guitar solo on “Ghost of Freedom”, keys, backing vocals
Howard Helm – keys (pipe organ) on “The Phantom Opera Ghost”
Richie Wilkison, Rafaela Farias & Sam King – backing vocals

Album Review – Death Angel / Humanicide (2019)

A solid and entertaining album of old school Thrash Metal that marks the band’s return to the wolves alongside a survivalist pack mentality.

Since their return from a long hiatus in 2001, American Thrash Metal wolfpack Death Angel has been on a constant and solid roll, releasing a series of albums that, although might not be considered masterpieces, are extremely high-quality albums of good old, classic thrash. If their 2016 installment The Evil Divide is in my humble opinion their strongest album of this new phase of the band and one of their all-time best ones in terms of creativity, speed and rage, we can say their brand new opus Humanicide, the ninth studio album in their career, continues to pave their thrashing path and keeps the band more than just relevant in the current metal scene, therefore keeping the flames of old school Thrash Metal burning brighter than a thousand suns.

Recorded and mixed at Audio Hammer Studios in Sanford, Florida, with additional recording at Spiderville Studios in Oakland, California and mastered at Sterling Sound in Nashville, Tennessee, Humanicide is the band’s fourth album in a row to be produced by Jason Suecof (Charred Walls of the Damned, Crotchduster, Capharnaum) and also to have the same lineup comprised of vocalist Mark Osegueda, guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar, bassist Damien Sisson and drummer Will Carroll. In addition to that, Humanicide also marks Death Angel’s return to the wolves alongside a survivalist pack mentality, which is also reflected in the album artwork designed by renowned American artist Brent Elliott White (Megadeth, Trivium, 4ARM, Thy Art Is Murder, Amon Amarth), who already worked with Death Angel in their 2010 album Relentless Retribution and in their 2013 album The Dream Calls for Blood. Having said that, are you ready to join this unrelenting wolfpack in their quest for Thrash Metal?

An epic intro ignites the bold title-track Humanicide, with the strident guitars by both Rob and Ted morphing into a shredding feast while Mark’s vocals sound piercing and acid just the way we like it, thrashing our souls mercilessly for almost six minutes before we’re treated to Divine Defector, devastating form start to finish thanks to the pounding beats by Will, and albeit not a brilliant song it’s still classic Thrash Metal and a good option for slamming into the pit. And more melodic but utterly aggressive, Death Angel put the pedal to the metal in another feast of classic guitar lines, nonstop drums and raspy vociferations in Aggressor, with Rob and Ted doing a very good job with both their acoustic lines and electrified riffs.

I Came for Blood, my favorite of all songs, is a fast and infuriated explosion of old school thrash where its guitars couldn’t sound more thrilling, while Damien and Will bring sheer thunder with their respective instruments, not to mention the song’s aggressive, take-no-prisoners-like lyrics (“The bloody nose of victory / Fueled by seeds of hate / Make peace with my enemies? / No chance, not today / I’ve traveled through the unknown / That is where I thrive / You chose to say my name aloud / So I shall never die”). Featuring the smooth piano by Ukrainian guest musician Vika Yermolyeva, Immortal Behated is a pensive and beautiful metal tune, very detailed and full of layers and nuances, and also presenting crisp guitar solos, intricate drumming and endless darkness to heighten our senses, whereas in Alive and Screaming they get back to their trademark berserk mode, with Mark being on fire on vocals supported by his bandmates’ potent backing vocals, showcasing once again a demolishing job done by Will on drums. And The Pack, as Mark himself says, is a call to arms, sounding as if the band wants to gather all thrashing wolves to fight side by side with them, with Rob and Ted stealing the spotlight with their flammable riffage.

Children Of Bodom’s own Alexi Laiho delivers a vibrant guitar solo in Ghost of Me, another fast-paced, high-octane tune with Mark firing his trademark screams, bringing to our ears riffs and solos played at the speed of light, therefore inspiring us all to slam into the pit like maniacs. Next, it’s time for Jason Suecof to fire a guitar solo in Revelation Song, focusing on the melody rather than the speed and offering another blast of dark poetry by the band (“Watch for their people dawning / Watch for their evil task / A negative space revival / A negative faceless mask, hey / A child to be so wicked / Coming to steal your mind / Lost in a destructive space / Lost in a revolting time”), with Damien’s bass sounding truly ominous in the background. Of Rats and Men is a generic version of their own music, which despite Mark’s efforts to make it more engaging the music never really takes off, while The Day I Walked Away, some sort of a “bonus track” included in all versions of the album (and that’s why I don’t understand why it’s called a bonus track), is one more not-so-exciting song by the band with a bland sound and vibe, but still presenting some good moments such as the guitar solos blasted by Rob and Ted.

In summary, as already mentioned Humanicide (available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and on sale from several locations as you can see HERE) is far from being a masterpiece, but it’s still an above average album of old school thrash that definitely deserves a shot. To be honest with you, I would love to see Death Angel go back to the more diverse and crisp musicality found in The Evil Divide, but of course I wouldn’t complain at all if they decide to keep following the same formula and deliver to us another ten albums on the same vein as Humanicide in the coming years. And for a great band like Death Angel, who have always crafted first-class Thrash Metal since their beginnings, that’s more than enough to keep us happy.

Best moments of the album: Humanicide, I Came for Blood, Immortal Behated and The Pack.

Worst moments of the album: Of Rats and Men and The Day I Walked Away.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Humanicide 5:42
2. Divine Defector 3:24
3. Aggressor 5:11
4. I Came for Blood 3:12
5. Immortal Behated 6:08
6. Alive and Screaming 3:36
7. The Pack 3:33
8. Ghost of Me 4:34
9. Revelation Song 5:33
10. Of Rats and Men 4:08
11. The Day I Walked Away 3:29

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums

Guest musicians
Alexi Laiho – lead guitars on “Ghost of Me”
Jason Suecof – lead guitars on “Revelation Song”
Vika Yermolyeva – piano on “Immortal Behated”

Album Review – Dark Station / Down in The Dark (2019)

Get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds and soaring vocals by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

In the spring of 2018, five Southern California musicians (Nathan Spades on vocals, Kyle Ort and David Bruno on the guitars, Eric Sinful on bass, and Dylan Roy on drums) came together to form a new band with the ability to seamlessly transition from crushingly heavy riffs to unforgettably haunting melodies and lyrics, leaving their respective project behind. That band is Hard Rock/Alternative Metal unity Dark Station, who are ready to unleash upon us their debut album entitled Down in the Dark, poised to cement the band’s name as a commendable force in the rock world. Put differently, get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds, soaring vocals and electrifying passages by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

A futuristic intro explodes into modern-day Alternative Metal in Ryse, where the groovy bass punches by Eric will make your head tremble while Nathan begins his enraged vocal attack amidst screeching guitar noises, resulting in a beyond solid welcome card by the band. Then drinking form the same fountain as icons like Nine Inch Nails, Marylin Manson and Korn, the quintet fires Heroes, a dark and melodic tune where Kyle and David once again pierce our ears with their riffs, not to mention its ominous aura, followed by New Age, with another wicked intro morphing into rumbling metal music, sounding very atmospheric and heavy. Moreover, Eric and his menacing bass are on fire throughout this headbanging song that perfectly depicts what modern American metal is all about. And Villain is even more alternative than all previous songs, showcasing a great job done by both Kyle and David on the guitars with their flammable riffs while Nathan’s vocals get more obscure and wicked, bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality.

No Life sounds like the music from all bands from that period where we got Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and so on, and although it might not be as vibrant as the other songs, its lyrics match perfectly with the music (“Summers eyes / Frienemies / Car exhaust  / I can’t believe / Something else was inside me / yeah  / You’ve gotta fight it alone now / It’s out of control”), whereas the born-to-be-a-radio-hit Obvious brings to our ears the utterly melodic bass punches by Eric while Nathan darkly declaims the song’s words (“We take the pain / Every day / Could we be the same / On the other side / I’ll try my luck again / Again / You know it’s not enough / For me”).After that awesome display of rock music we have Hollow, another somber, pensive creation by Dark Station where Nathan exhales melancholy from his vocals and with Dylan pounding his drums with tons of precision, also bringing crisp guitar solos and a huge dosage of anger for our total delight.

Leaning towards the most contemporary form of American Alternative Rock and Metal, Misery is a great option to be part of a soundtrack for hitting the road, with all instruments filling every single space in the air, therefore providing Nathan all he needs to thrive on vocals. Ghost keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline, flirting with Industrial Rock and Metal but keeping the band’s core essence intact. Not only that, Eric and Dylan make a very effective dynamic duo, bringing thunder to the music with their instruments; and modernized, metallic sounds keep permeating the air in Locked On, with its background futuristic touch helping enhance the impact of each instrument considerably, especially the guitars by Kyle and David alternating between more serene moments and razor-edged sounds. As their final blast of Alternative Metal, we’re treated to more of the band’s radio-ready rockin’ music in the form of Visions, where slashing riffs are powerfully complemented by the crushing bass by Eric and Dylan’s rhythmic beats, ending in a desperate and captivating way.

What are you waiting for to show those talented Southern Californians your support and appreciation? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, bang your head to their music on Spotify, and get ready to rock to the sound of Down in The Dark sooner than you think by pre-ordering your copy of the album from the band’s official website or from Apple Music. There’s a new age of American Alternative Rock and Metal coming, and based on the quality and electricity flowing from Dark Station’s debut album I’m more than certain we’ll see those guys spearheading that very welcome movement in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Ryse, Hollow and Misery.

Worst moments of the album: No Life.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Ryse 3:37
2. Heroes 4:19
3. New Age 3:09
4. Villain 3:55
5. No Life 3:09
6. Obvious 4:01
7. Hollow 3:13
8. Misery 3:00
9. Ghost 4:20
10. Locked On 3:23
11. Visions 4:34

Band members
Nathan Spades – vocals
Kyle Ort – guitar
David Bruno – guitar
Eric Sinful – bass
Dylan Roy – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – The Harp Twins

Can you feel the wind of the north, my dear Camille and Kennerly?

How about we celebrate insane six years of The Headbanging Moose with two very talented women who have the unique ability of transforming the heaviest and most intense metal classics into serene and touching ballads only armed with their ethereal harps? I’m talking about Camille and Kennerly Kitt, known worldwide as The Harp Twins, who have achieved an unprecedented success not only among metal fans but in countless other music genres and entertainment segments, leading them to tour across several countries in North and America, Europe and anywhere else where their whimsical sounds are truly appreciated. And no, you’re not seeing double, as The Harp Twins are indeed identical twins, providing your avid ears double the pleasure with their refined skills by mixing all types of rock, metal and soundtrack arrangements with the gentle sounds flowing form their harps. Not only that, Camille and Kennerly are also accomplished actresses, showing there’s no actual limit for this talented American duo.

Born in the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States in 1989, with their heritage being mostly Norwegian mixed with Swedish, Finnish, English, Scottish, French, German and a little Cherokee Indian, Camille and Kennerly began playing the piano when they were children, followed by the harp when they went to junior high school. The duo was drawn by the beauty of the harp, saying it seemed like a magical instrument to them. By the way, their first harps (small, pre-owned lever harps) were bought with money they got from jobs such as babysitting and dog-walking, in order to show their mother they were really serious about playing the instrument. Classically trained in piano and also capable of playing a little percussion, the two blonde harpists also love to sing, which can be seen in some of their own original compositions and cover songs, although of course their main focus is and will always be their mesmerizing harps.

Having already played their electric harps, acoustic and electro-acoustic concert grand harps in several concert series, festivals, fairs and conventions in front of the most diverse crowds, even playing for US presidents, tech geniuses and global leaders, Camille and Kennerly have released over 100 singles online since the beginning of their career, as well as some very interesting cover albums, developing a huge cult of followers worldwide through their social media and becoming undoubtedly the most famous harp duo in the world. All that success is not in vain, of course, as both sisters hold a Bachelor of Music degree in Harp Performance and graduated with highest honors (“Summa Cum Laude”) at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, located in Wheaton, Illinois, not to mention their previous years in a music studies program at a local college where they were in the Honors Scholar Program and represented the college at several collegiate summits.

Despite being formally trained in classical music and having the aforementioned degrees, their true obsession in music has always been taking the harp to new heights and exploring new grounds, nurturing a deep passion for arranging and performing rock, metal and soundtrack music as a harp duet, as well as their Nordic-inspired original songs thanks to their Scandinavian origin, always without any backtracks, studio productions or record labels involved, beautifully representing what it truly means to be an independent artist. And after listening to their duet arrangements of contemporary songs from artists including Iron Maiden, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Enya and Journey, among many, many others, you’ll be able to fully understand why they have chosen to follow such distinguished path, embellishing the airwaves with their gentle, melodic and classy harp fingering.

As already mentioned, The Harp Twins, who by the way perform on Venus “Classic” Concert Grand pedal harps and Lyon & Healy “Silhouette” Electric lever harps, have several albums released (also in physical format) apart from their hundreds of online singles and videos, with their YouTube videos totaling over 106 million views with over 600,000 subscribers as of September 2019. For instance, their cover of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven alone garnered over three million YouTube hits as of September 2019, while their version of Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark received over 11 million views as of September 2019. Their six self-produced albums are Harp Attack (2013), Harp Attack 2 (2015), Harp Attack 3 (2018), Harp Fantasy (2013), Harp Fantasty 2 (2016), and Winter Lights (2017); while the Harp Attack series are dedicated to covers of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal songs and the Harp Fantasy series focus on covers of video game, anime, film and television soundtracks such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Pirates of the Caribbean, Final Fantasy, Star Trek, Star Wars, Vikings, Silent Hill and The Lord of the Rings, just to name a few, Winter Lights was their first-ever holiday album, including two new original songs and ten new arrangements of holiday classics from years gone by. Furthermore, their music has also been featured in countless media like National Geographic, The Huffington Post, ABC News, Conan O’Brien’s TeamCoco, AMCtv.com, Guitar World, Revolver, and many more, having also been praised by different music icons like Megadeth, Billy Idol, Kansas and Within Temptation, who shared the twins’ music on their official social media.

As a metalhead, I’m pretty sure you’re eager to listen to Camille and Kennerly playing some of your favorite metal classics of all time, right? Well, all you have to do is subscribe to their YouTube channel, sit down and enjoy their harp versions for, but not limited to, Rush’s Closer to the Heart, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Dio’s Rainbow in the Dark, Metallica’s Fade to Black, Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, and Megadeth’s A Tout le Monde. Go visit their official YouTube channel, or buy their music from CD Baby or from Apple Music, relax and enjoy these and countless other classic like Send Me an Angel, Smoke on the Water, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Hotel California, Don’t Stop Believin’, Every Breath You Take, and so on.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Camille and Kennerly always say they switch off playing melody and accompaniment, even within the same piece, and also that apart from all cover songs they do either by request or by their own choice, they have also been composing original music for their harps for years, which can be seen in songs like North and the music theme for their own animated logo. In addition, you can also find Camille and Kennerly as guest harpists in the intro Time to Set You Free,  from the album The Second Big Bang, released in 2017 by Brazilian Melodic Power Metal project Soulspell. And regarding her main influences and idols in music, the twins mentioned in one of their interviews that their earliest musical influences were rock and classic rock because that’s what their mother used to listen to, including bands like The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Billy Idol, Van Halen, ZZ Top and Johnny Cash, later expanding their range due to their classical training to most artists and bands who think outside the box and follow their own path.

Although their main focus is obviously on their harp career, the duo is also famous for their acting and modeling skills, being members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and AFTRA and having already acted in theater, film and television. For instance, in the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead, they played a walker nicknamed “Ouch That’s My Hair”, who was fought and killed by the character Carol, and had roles as “The Marcelli Twins” in the dark teen comedy Blacktino (as you can see in the official trailer by clicking HERE), from 2011, as well as appearances in many other movies like Delivery Man (2013), Elephant Medicine (2010) and The End of Lost Beginnings (2009), and in several commercial such as a national Japanese commercials for Chupa Chups lollypops. Still talking about their film career, Camille and Kennerly always like to mention that they do all their videos by themselves, arranging the music, finding the filming location, making their own costumes, filming everything with a small hand-held video camera on a tripod, recording the sound in their own living room and editing the video themselves. Needless to say, there’s no such thing as playbacks or any other “magic tricks” in their videos, as what you hear is exactly how it’s being played by our multi-talented twins. Also, when asked about their life on the road, Camille and Kennerly said in several interviews they have lots of memorable moments to share, like when they represented the United States at the World Harp Festival in Paraguay, where they had extensive support from the American embassy resulting in a full concert the day after the event to a sold out theater, and all of their performances at several Walker Stalker Cons, playing right before panels with Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs and Greg Nicotero. It’s impossible to list all events they have participated so far in their career, featuring in all types of public, private, philanthropic, academic, corporate, cultural and political events, proving once again how talented and professional they are.

Of course, there’s no Camille and Kennerly without their harps and vice-versa, and that’s why it’s important and truly interesting to know more about the girls’ ethereal weapons. Their acoustic concert grand harps are 6’3” (or 1.9 m) and weigh 90 lbs (or 40.8 kg), while their electric harps are 4’ (or 1.22 m) and weigh 16 lbs (or 7.25 kg); regarding the number of strings, their acoustic concert grand harps have 47 strings (which can have three different pitches, those being flat, natural and sharp), their electric lever harps have 33 strings (which can have two different pitches, either flat/natural or natural/sharp), and their Harpsicle Harps have 26 strings. In addition, although it’s possible for the twins to use distortion on their electric harps, they don’t actually do that due to the difficulty to use distortion while still continuing the melody and accompaniment; however, you can enjoy Camille and Kennerly blasting distorted harp sounds on their cover version for Billy Idol’s White Wedding (by the way, Billy Idol himself even said that “if you live long enough you get to see this version of White Wedding”), and a slight effect in their Doctor Who Theme and The Smith’s Asleep covers. When asked about how they manage to carry their harps everywhere and how they handle their weight while playing, they said they put a strap on their backs to do that, but that they also bruise their hips from the straps if they wear the harps for too long. They love the freedom of movement, though, helping them to properly perform rock songs with their electric harps. Some people like to ask them why they don’t move even more while playing, and they said it’s tougher to reach a necessary balance with the harps than with a guitar or violin, for example.

Aside from being impressive harpists, Camille and Kennerly also have a variety of other interests and hobbies in their lives, keeping them absolutely busy pretty much all of the time. For instance, the twins are third degree black belts in Tae Kwon Do and former Tae Kwon Do instructors, which by the way caused two broken fingers to Kennerly while sparring one day, and stitches to Camille’s face as a result of puncture wound sustained while holding a board that Kennerly was breaking. In the end, those incidents made them decide to stop practicing martial arts and focus on their career as harpists. Our beloved blonde musicians were also competitive swimmers as kids (having both qualified for the Junior Olympics five times), are experts in rifle marksmanship, and are trained in horseback riding, not to mention their passion for other activities and hobbies such as hiking, working out, watching TV shows like The Walking Dead and Vikings, reading, writing, and so on. Moreover, the Kitt Twins are also actively involved in their community, supporting education and health initiatives for unprivileged children overseas, and volunteering for many years at a monthly deaf/hard-of-hearing social gathering (and yes, they know sign language), among other endeavors, as they strongly believe in the importance of giving back. The girls also sponsor a few kids in Ethiopia, helping to provide them school, food, clothing and medical care, always hoping more and more people will follow their steps to make the world a better place.

Last but not least, Camille and Kennerly’s connection as twins is beautifully externalized in the way they always look at each other while they’re playing, and in their twin costumes (which as mentioned are always put together by the twins themselves by mixing and matching things they already have at home), unless of course they need to dress differently for a commercial, film or media project. Having said that, if you want to have double the fun with the classy and mesmerizing music by Camille and Kennerly, or if you are an event organizer who’s searching for a truly unique attraction to captivate the attention of your guests on your next big event, you can get in touch with The Harp Twins by sending an email to HarpTwins@HarpTwins.com, and don’t forget to keep an eye on their Events Page on Facebook for all of their public performances, concerts and other events. And if you want to show your support to their distinguished work with their harps, as aforementioned you can purchase their music from Apple Music and from CD Baby, or simply visit their official website for all music, news, tour dates and other nice-to-know information about the unstoppable twins who give a beyond welcome touch of delicacy to our good old rock and metal music.

Camille and Kennerly’s Official Facebook page
Camille and Kennerly’s Official Instagram
Camille and Kennerly’s Official Twitter
Camille and Kennerly’s Official YouTube channel

“When someone tells us that our music has helped them through an illness, or inspired their child to learn an instrument, or even just given them some peace after a trying day, that means the world to us. As musicians, it’s the greatest feeling to know that our music has touched someone else in some way.” – Camille and Kennerly Kitt

Album Review – Mavradoxa / Nightmarrow (2019)

The final breath of dark and heavy sounds by a now extinct metal unity will take you on a journey of isolation and hopelessness through the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal.

Let me begin this review by saying that I was absolutely shocked when I read earlier this year that the beyond promising and talented Rochester, New York-based Atmospheric Black Metal band Mavradoxa was calling it quits after only a few years of existence. Fortunately for all of us, fans of dark and atmospheric music, the band left us with three excellent full-length albums, those being their 2016 debut opus Sojourners, their fantastic 2017 release Lethean Lament, and more recently Nightmarrow, released earlier this year via Hypnotic Dirge Records. Although related to the tonal atmosphere and character of their previous albums, Nightmarrow sees the band developing and intensifying their song-writing ability, crafting simultaneously cohesive yet unpredictable songs with a progressive hue that is still rooted in Atmospheric Black Metal.

Engineered by Nicholas Alan at Subterranean Studios, mixed by Stephen Parker (Pillorian, Maestus), mastered by Justin Weis at Trakworx Recording, and featuring a stunning artwork by American artist Dylan Garrett Smith, Nightmarrow represents a meditation on the isolation and hopelessness of our age (particularly in the realm of the urban), and the consequences of technology and voracious consumption of resources. Mavradoxa’s founding duo Zachary Smith, also known as Nival, and Monica Finger, also known as Lux, together with guitarist Tyler Stasierowski (from The Highest Leviathan) and bassist Josh Mason (from Wandering Oak and Acrylazea), perfectly depict that feeling of solitude and desperation in Nightmarrow, positioning the unfortunately now defunct band as one of the most creative and interesting bands of the underground scene in the United States.

Featuring guest vocals by Matt Greenwood and an additional guitar solo by Nicholas Alan, the opening track Maple begins in full force with the razor-edged riffs by Zach and Tyler and the intricate beats by Monica generating a rumbling ambience perfect for Zach’s anguished roars, sounding as powerful and grim just the way we like it in Atmospheric Black Metal. Furthermore, the song’s progressive ending flows smoothly into the even darker musical voyage entitled The Carrion Shade, where Josh and Monica make the earth tremble with their respective instruments while the entire band darkly intones the song’s cryptic lyrics (“Black sun, black moon / In shadows, entombed / Flame, gold, & rust / slowly coalesced / in the pale of the / last winter sunset”). This is Progressive Black Metal at its finest showcasing all band members in absolute sync, therefore delivering a crushing wall of blackened sounds for our total delight, in special Zach and Tyler with their flammable guitars.

Matt Greenwood returns in the title-track Nightmarrow, where the music gets closer to what was offered to us in Lethean Lament, presenting more introspective and atmospheric sounds and passages. Zach sounds utterly enraged and acid on vocals, with Monica’s gentle clean vocals bringing more balance to this dense and bold feast of extreme music. Then an acoustic, ethereal bridge named Rustling Leaves soothes our souls and warms up our senses for Black Crystal Snowfall, featuring guest vocals by Swamp and sheer poetry flowing from its lyrics (“Ancestral whispers beckon us back / to a starless womb, to a time before / this place where all is languishing, / where all is ensnared by the grasp / of synthetic hands, becoming, / and ripping our bones from within”), also bringing forward elements from Blackened Doom added to their core atmospheric music. Monica’s steady beats and Zach’s and Tyler’s crisp riffs will undoubtedly embrace your soul from start to finish, reaching a climatic and piercing grand finale that gently morphs into a melancholic outro titled Umbra, where Zach and Tyler deliver a passionate performance with their acoustic guitars, concluding Nightmarrow on a high and pensive note.

If Nightmarrow, which by the way is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, is indeed the last breath of Atmospheric Black Metal by Mavradoxa no one knows for sure. The band might decide to come back from their “retirement” one day to smash our senses again with their somber music, who knows? Until that day arrives (if it arrives,  of course), you can keep in touch with Zach and Monica on Facebook, and purchase your copy of Mavradoxa’s final journey through the realms of atmospheric and extreme music from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page (or click HERE for all details about the band and where to buy their music), as well as from your regular retailers such as Apple Music, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs. Having said that, it’s with a heavy heart that I finalize this review (or maybe I should call it a tribute), as heavy, ominous and splendorous as the music by the now extinct Mavradoxa. Thank you for your music, Zah and Monica, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you two again in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: The Carrion Shade and Nightmarrow.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Maple 7:41
2. The Carrion Shade 9:25
3. Nightmarrow 9:34
4. Rustling Leaves 1:45
5. Black Crystal Snowfall 10:57
6. Umbra 3:40

Band members
Zachary Smith – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Monica Finger – drums, vocals
Tyler Stasierowski – electric guitars, 12-string acoustic guitar
Josh Mason – fretless bass guitar

Guest musicians
Matt Greenwood – guest vocals on “Maple” and “Nightmarrow”
Swamp – guest vocals on “Black Crystal Snowfall”
Nicholas Alan – additional lead guitar on “Maple”