Concert Review – Behemoth (The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, 11/06/2018)

Toronto definitely loves Behemoth at their darkest.

OPENING ACTS: Wolves In The Throne Room and At The Gates

If there’s one thing we cannot complain at all in Toronto is the fact that the winter never really hits us hard before the end of December, which means whenever there’s a concert like this Tuesday’s fantastic triumvirate of extreme music with Wolves In The Throne Room, At The Gates and the masters of blasphemy Behemoth at The Danforth Music Hall during their “Ecclesia Diabolica America 2018 e.v.” tour, you can rest assured it will never be too cold nor snowing, allowing any fan to attend the show and have a great time. Well, I guess even if it was -20oC and snowing like hell the concert would have been absolutely SOLD OUT like it actually happened, with about 1,500 metalheads at the venue, and the reason for that is quite simple. All three bands kicked some serious ass with their austere, obscure and hammering music, especially Behemoth, who put up another memorable performance in the city.

I have to admit I didn’t know much about American Atmospheric Black Metal act WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, formed in 2003 in the city of Olympia, Washington, in the United States, before their show opening for At The Gates and Behemoth this Tuesday, and I’m truly happy with them being chosen to do so. Still promoting their 2017 album Thrice Woven (available from their own BandCamp page), the  band comprised of Nathan Weaver on vocals and guitar, Kody Keyworth on the guitar and backing vocals, Peregrine Somerville also on the guitar, the stunning Brittany McConnell on keyboards and Aaron Weaver on drums (and no, they don’t have a bassist) delivered a solid, entertaining and mesmerizing show, playing only three songs but for around 30 minutes, just the way we love it in Atmospheric Black Metal. If you’re still going to see Behemoth during this North American tour, make sure you get to the venue on time for Wolves In The Throne Room, because watching them on stage is indeed a unique experience.

Setlist
Angrboda
The Old Ones Are With Us
Born From the Serpent’s Eye

Band members
Nathan Weaver – vocals, guitar
Kody Keyworth – guitar, backing vocals
Peregrine Somerville – guitar
Brittany McConnell – keyboards
Aaron Weaver – drums

After a quick break it was time for Gothenburg’s own Melodic Death Metal institution AT THE GATES to prove us all why they’re still one of the most relevant bands from the 90’s unparalleled Swedish scene, slaying everything and everyone throughout their entire concert. All fans at the venue enjoyed a lot the flammable performance by frontman Tomas Lindberg and his henchmen, including the songs from their brand new album To Drink from the Night Itself, such as the title-track and A Stare Bound in Stone. Not only their full concert was a feast of first-class old school and modern-day Melodic Death Metal, but it was nice to watch Mr. Adrian Erlandsson smashing his drums once again after so many years, as the last time I saw him playing live was when he was still drumming for Cradle Of Filth. A great drummer, an amazing and charismatic lead singer, and a very entertaining setlist. What else can you ask for in Melodic Death Metal made in the beautiful Sweden, right?

Setlist
Der Widerstand
To Drink From the Night Itself
Slaughter of the Soul
At War With Reality
A Stare Bound in Stone
Cold
El Altar del Dios Desconocido
Death and the Labyrinth
Heroes and Tombs
Suicide Nation
The Book of Sand (The Abomination)
Blinded by Fear
The Night Eternal

Band members
Tomas Lindberg – vocals
Martin Larsson – guitars
Jonas Stålhammar – guitars
Jonas Björler – bass
Adrian Erlandsson – drums 

BEHEMOTH

Right after At The Gates ended their show, the speakers started playing the devilish children’s choir from the awesome intro Solve, from BEHEMOTH’s blasphemous and totally amazing new opus I Loved You At Your Darkest, putting us all in a trance and warming up our senses for the storm of Blackened Death Metal we were all eager to witness once again in Toronto. And when our favorite Polish horde started their fulminating performance with Wolves ov Siberia, spearheaded as usual by the iconic Nergal, it was hell on earth at The Danforth Music Hall for the total delectation of the 1,500 fans who took the venue by storm.

Blending new songs from their latest albums I Loved You At Your Darkest, which by the way worked extremely well live like the hypnotizing chant Bartzabel and the beyond blasphemous Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica, and The Satanist, with the ominous hymns Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer (my favorite of the setlist) and Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel being a true invocation of evil, with old school material like the pulverizing Ov Fire and the Void, Slaves Shall Serve and Chant for Eschaton 2000, Nergal and his horde comprised of the extremely sharp and talented Seth on the guitar and backing vocals, the bulldozer Orion on bass and backing vocals, and the stone crusher Inferno on drums were on absolute fire from start to finish, worshiping Satan while delivering the best and most intricate fusion of classic and contemporary Death and Black Metal you can think of, with their masks, costumes and props being the icing on the cake. My only “complaint” is that they didn’t end the show with the fantastic O Father O Satan O Sun!, including those menacing horns and masks, but the closing combo Lucifer, We Are the Next 1000 Years  and the outro Coagvla were awesome anyway.

Not only Nergal was extremely happy and excited with the warm reception he received here in Toronto (not to mention the endless, incendiary circle pits beautifully crafted by their, let’s say, “most physical” fans), but seeing such packed venue made him pretty much promise us all that Behemoth will strike us Torontonians once again with their infernal music in a not-so-distant future, and we obviously can’t wait for another bestial performance by one of the most important extreme bands of the current metal scene. Lastly, on a side note, it looks like Behemoth love Toronto even more than we can imagine, as the Polish quartet from hell also played a 7-song setlist at a house party of one of Nergal’s friends the night before as you can see HERE, with the same intensity and energy of their usual concerts at much bigger places. I don’t mind not being invited for those parties as long as Behemoth keep coming back to the city with their insanely heavy and hellish concerts, but if by any chance anyone has a spare “ticket” for that type of event, why not? Just kidding, as I’m not that social, only a metalhead who loves when a band like Behemoth keeps spreading their black wings and unleashing hell upon the earth, showing their love for the city of Toronto as much as we love them back at their darkest.

Setlist
Solve
Wolves ov Siberia
Daimonos
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Bartzabel
Ov Fire and the Void
God = Dog
Conquer All
Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica
Decade of Therion
Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000
Lucifer
We Are the Next 1000 Years
Coagvla

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

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Album Review – Elegiac / Pagan Storm (2018)

Forging the New Wave of American Black Metal, behold this talented one-man army from Portland, Oregon and his brand new melodic, aggressive and bestial full-length opus.

Forging the New Wave of USBM (or American Black Metal), Portland, Oregon-based one-man army Elegiac is into this creative and productive overwhelming attitude that all the most influential bands of the 90’s were in at their very beginning, dwelling with the most typical references of the early Scandinavian heritage influenced by the more pragmatic synthesis of the USBM roughness in the project’s brand new opus entitled Pagan Storm. Since its inception in 2014 in San Diego, California by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zane Young (from several underground acts such as Airengrav, Blitzgeist, Gormanudr, Lord Impotent and Tideless), Elegiac has released three EP’s and four full-length albums, as well as a demo and several split albums, but it’s with Pagan Storm, which features a classy and epic cover art by Joe McEvoy, that this Black Metal beast has reached its most melodic, aggressive and flammable shape and form.

Zane wastes no time and quickly darkens our minds with his sluggish Doom Metal-inspired beats and demonic gnarls in the opening track titled Rituals of War, evolving into a dissonant and Mephistophelian feast of Black Metal without a single empty space in its over eight minutes of obscurity. Then we have Allegiance and Honor, more brutal and piercing than its predecessor, presenting darkly poetic lyrics (“Calling to the gods of my blood / Deep within my memory / Return my mind to the patterns of old / And teach me the wisdom now tossed away / By the desert god of Abraham / A true plague of the mind and flesh / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / Molded for their every will…”) and leaning towards contemporary Melodic Black Metal, with Zane’s roars reaching a truly infernal level throughout the entire song; and dark clouds of Black and Doom Metal spread upon humanity in the 10-minute aria Somber Morning, where Zane delivers the most Stygian guitar lines and delicate but vile beats of the whole album in a demonic display of extreme music that will haunt the souls of the lighthearted. And strident guitar lines kick off the also blackened extravaganza named Through Ancient Eyes, where Zane keeps growling like a demonic entity while pounding his drums in a damned and somber manner. Put differently, if you love the rawest and most sulfurous form of underground Black and Doom Metal, this song is just perfect for you.

A lot more vibrant and electrified than its predecessors,  Purity of Winter brings forward a rumbling and dense sonority for our avid ears, or in other words, a lesson in visceral Black Metal with both guitar and bass lines sounding as crude as they can be, resulting in an enfolding fusion of melancholy, crushing sounds and tones, and the desolation of the winter. In Golden Fires of Victory we face the menacing, obscure gnarls by Zane accompanied by his blast beats and demented guitars, sending a sound message to the unbelievers that the gates of hell are open and darkness is upon us, feeling vile and crushing from start to finish; whereas in the title-track Pagan Storm the talented Zane takes his fury to a whole new level, growling and screaming in the most bestial way while unleashing demonic but at the same time very harmonious riffs from his guitar, once again adding a considerable dosage of modern-day Melodic Black Metal to his raw core sonority. And last but not least, how about 10 minutes of melodic and dynamic Black Metal to darken your metal heart even more? That’s what Zane offers in the closing tune Ancient Spirit, a fantastic “waltz of the damned” where his anguished lamentations add an extra layer of melancholy to the musicality, while his flammable riffs keep invading our ears until the music fades into pitch black darkness.

The somber and eccentric world of extreme music crafted by Zane and his Elegiac can be better explored by visiting the project’s official Facebook page, and of course if you have what it takes to dive deep into the crypts of Hades together with Zane you can purchase Pagan Storm from the ATMF’s BandCamp page or webstore. Hence, after listening to this potent and hellish opus by Elegiac, I bet USBM, our beloved American Black Metal, will be one of your favorite genres whenever straightforward and devilish extreme music is needed in your everyday life, with Pagan Storm becoming your personal reference in the underworld of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Purity of Winter, Pagan Storm and Ancient Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 De Tenebrarum Principio

Track listing
1. Rituals of War 8:17
2. Allegiance and Honor 5:07
3. Somber Morning 10:20
4. Through Ancient Eyes 7:33
5. Purity of Winter 7:03
6. Golden Fires of Victory 6:49
7. Pagan Storm 7:16
8. Ancient Spirit 9:41

Band members
Zane Young – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Dragonlord / Dominion (2018)

Exploring themes of darkness owning and influencing these times we now live in, here comes Eric Peterson’s fantastic Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.

After long and excruciating 13 years, San Francisco, California-based Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal horde Dragonlord, the brainchild of Testament’s own Eric Peterson where he’s able to showcase his darkened side, is finally back with a brand new opus, titled Dominion. Serving as the long-awaited follow-up to their 2005 release Black Wings of Destiny, but taking the fantasy and storytelling to a whole new level, Dominion explores themes of darkness owning and influencing these times we now live in, and things that have come to pass. In addition to Eric Peterson on vocals, guitar and bass, Dominion features the musical talents of Lyle Livingston (Psypheria) on orchestrated keys and pianos, Alex Bent (Trivium) on drums, and notable fantasy metal singer Leah McHenry (Leah) on female vocals and choirs, who has performed and recorded with members of renowned acts like Blind Guardian, Nightwish and Delain, among others.

Featuring a stunning artwork painted by Berlin-based Israeli artist and designer Eliran Kantor (Testament, Iced Earth, Sodom), Dominion is a dark fantasy fan’s musical dream, exploring everything from Nordic history to Lord of the Rings, with its eight songs creating a deep and heady musical journey rife with meaning and menace, from the blackest and loudest recesses of Eric Peterson’s mind. If you’re a fan of the superb work done by Mr. Peterson with Thrash Metal titans Testament, you might be surprised by how visceral, epic and imposing his guitar sounds with Dragonlord, not to mention his devilish gnarls, turning Dominion into a must-have for fans not only of the Symphonic Black Metal genre, but also for anyone else who admires high-quality and vibrant extreme music.

The always mesmerizing sounds of thunder and rain open the gates of the underworld in the intro titled Entrance, before Eric comes ripping with his ass-kicking guitar, all embraced by an epic atmosphere and suddenly exploding into the fantastic title-track Dominion, presenting insane keys and an imposing background choir, while Alex proves why he’s one of the most talented drummers of the current metal scene and Eric sounds bestial with his enraged roars. Put differently, this full-bodied and very detailed lesson in Symphonic Black Metal is what Dimmu Borgir should be doing, and their sonic onslaught of piercing and Stygian metal music goes on in Ominous Premonition, getting faster, more demonic and absolutely amazing, with the keys by Lyle being a thing of beauty while Eric not only growls like a demon, but his riffs and solos are also majestic as usual.

In Lamia it’s quite impressive how Eric’s riffs and Lyle’s keys and orchestrations blend so perfectly, with guest vocalist Leha providing a touch of delicacy and passion amidst all devastation blasted by the rest of the band; whereas epicness and lust beautifully flow from all instruments in the stunning Love of the Damned, a Symphonic Black Metal ballad where Eric’s vocals get more introspective and deep (and I would simply love to see them performing this song live). Then it’s time for a journey to the mighty North in Northlanders, with the bitterly cold riffs by Eric and the gripping keys by Lyle being enhanced by Alex’s precise and potent beats, while the ambience remains as epic as possible in a flawless hybrid between Black Metal and Symphonic Metal.

Dragonlord Dominion Ultimate Dragonlair Merch Bundle

Then featuring Tilen Hudrap (Vicious Rumors, Wartune, Thraw) on bass, The Discord of Melkor is perhaps the most Black Metal of all tracks, a dark symphony of classic and vibrant metal music that sounds very dense thanks to the brutality blasted by Alex on drums, whereas Serpents of Fire, the last song in Dominion, is just as fantastic as the rest of this very detailed and thrilling album, with Eric growling and gnarling demonically while Alex and Lyle generate a massive wall of symphonic and violent sounds, resulting in over eight minutes of a captivating and bold sonority for our total delectation, not to mention how its climatic ending gets closer to the Thrash Metal by Testament, therefore adding an extra pinch of adrenaline to the overall result.

If you think that my words are not enough to describe the music in Dominion, I highly recommend you go watch “The Making of Dominion” video series on YouTube (split into parts one, two and three), and in order to get more details about Dragonlord simply go visit their official Facebook page. In addition, from all album versions and bundles available in the market, apart from the digital options you should definitely take a look at the physical combos available from the Spinefarm Records’ webstore, especially the beyond superb “Ultimate Dragonlair” merch bundle, featuring the LP gatefold version with a large-size 20-page lyric booklet, the CD digipack, a copy of the unparalleled “The Burner” comic book, and a stylish T-shirt. But be aware that, once you enter the dangerous dominion of Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal ruled by Eric Peterson and his Dragonlord, there’s no turning back.

Best moments of the album: Dominion, Love of the Damned, Northlanders and The Discord of Melkor.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Spinefarm Records

Track listing
1. Entrance 2:34
2. Dominion 5:36
3. Ominous Premonition 4:40
4. Lamia 4:15
5. Love of the Damned 5:21
6. Northlanders 6:45
7. The Discord of Melkor (feat. Tilen Hudrap) 7:09
8. Serpents of Fire 8:09

Band members
Eric Peterson – vocals, guitars, bass
Lyle Livingston – keyboards, piano, orchestrations
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Leah McHenry – female vocals, choirs
Tilen Hudrap – bass “on Discord of Melkor”

Album Review – Akhenaten / Golden Serpent God (2018)

Steeped in the mythology and mysticism of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia while exploring forgotten paths of history, here comes an infernal duo armed with their brand new opus of crushing Blackened Death Metal.

Forged in 2012 in the fires of Manitou Springs, a resort city in Colorado, in the United States by the “Houseman Brothers” Wyatt Houseman on vocals and Jerred Houseman on all other instruments, here comes a unique and vibrant Black/Death Metal studio project infused with Middle Eastern Folk Influences (even called “Blackened Mesopotamian Folk/Death Metal”) known as Akhenaten with their brand new album Golden Serpent God, steeped in the mythology and mysticism of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia while exploring forgotten paths of history, extracting unknown lore and threads of truth. For instance, Akhenaten, known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV, was a pharaoh of Egypt especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, giving you a very good idea of how distinct and aggressive the music by the duo sounds.

With parallel themes to what’s found in the brother’s Symphonic Black Metal band Helleborus, and featuring an imposing cover artwork by Tony Koehl of Sketch The Soul and a title page artwork by Dennis Lee Hughes of Cythraul Art, Golden Serpent God will appeal to fans of the music by bands such as Al-Namrood, Narjahanam, Melechesh and Kartikeya just like what happened in their previous release Incantations Through the Gates of Irkalla, from 2015, whispering to the most remote regions of primal memory to the sound of their Blackened Death Metal, filled with exotic instruments and rhythmic structures of the ancient Near and Middle East. “The album is a mural of epics from Egypt and Mesopotamia. It tells stories of belief, warfare, men and Gods,” said Jerred about their newborn opus, inviting the listener to an idiosyncratic and extreme music journey together with the duo.

In the excellent opening track, titled Amulets of Smoke and Fire, ominous sounds take us to the Mesopotamian world of Akhenaten, with Jerred generating a dark and embracing atmosphere with his scorching riffs, whimsical keyboards and demonic beats, while Wyatt growls like an Egyptian beast; followed by the also imposing and devastating Dragon of the Primordial Sea, where the guitar and bass lines create a beautiful paradox with the epicness flowing from keyboards, while Wyatt declaims the song’s lyrics with his deep, visceral growls, enhancing the song’s taste and impact even more, creating an instant link with the crushing chant Throne of Shamash, where the drums by Jerred get more and more demolishing as the music progresses in an excellent display of classic Blackened Death Metal, feeling like a battle hymn due to its thunderous vibe.

Then Middle-Eastern and folk elements permeate the air in the captivating instrumental bridge Through the Stargate, setting the stage for Akhenaten to smash our senses in Erishkigal: Kingdom of Death, a full-bodied, metallic feast of darkened sounds and nuances where the Houseman Bothers are absolutely on fire and in total sync, with highlights to the rumbling sounds extracted from guitars and bass. And things get even more thrilling as the strident and piercing sound of keyboards take the lead in the melodic aria titled Pazuzu: Harbinger of Darkness, the perfect union of history, myths and metal music, with the vociferations by Wyatt matching the musicality flawlessly, whereas in Akashic Field: Enter Arcana Catacombs get ready for over seven minutes of tribal beats and Middle-Eastern tones and nuances in another fresh instrumental extravaganza by this talented band, with Jerred blasting hypnotizing beats while the atmosphere remains as cryptic as it can be.

Featuring Brian Palmer (Circaic) on the guitar, God of Creation is the most devastating and modern composition by Akhenaten, with Wyatt growling like a demonic entity while Jerred makes sure the ambience remains as violent as possible in a multi-layered, intricate feast of Black and Death Metal for our avid ears. After such furious explosion of extreme music we have another interesting display of Middle-Eastern music infused with Extreme Metal and even futuristic elements entitled Sweat of the Sun, sounding a bit too weird at times (not to mention it could have been slightly shorter and more metallic), while in Apophis: The Serpent of Rebirth the duo gets back to their more incendiary mode, blasting a potent fusion of Progressive and Blackened Death Metal, being therefore tailored for fans of bands like Behemoth. Furthermore, the intricacy flowing from guitars and bass are the exact background Wyatt needs to thrive with his gnarls, flowing like a firestorm until the music fades into the atmospheric and vibrant outro Golden Serpent God, with all its hypnotizing sounds generating an enfolding and obscure finale for such heavy and captivating album.

In case you want to explore in more detail the vast and eccentric realm of Akhenaten, simply pay them a visit on Facebook for news and other nice-to-know details, and grab your copy of Golden Serpent God (available for a full listen on YouTube, on Spotify and on SoundCloud) from their BandCamp page, from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from the Cimmerian Shade Recordings’ webstore, from iTunes, from Amazon or from Discogs. Akhenaten offer you a one-way ticket into the blackened and mysterious lands of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in Golden Serpent God, and I’m sure such distinguished experience will deeply encourage you to stay there and not come back of your own free will.

Best moments of the album: Dragon of the Primordial Sea, Pazuzu: Harbinger of Darkness and God of Creation.

Worst moments of the album: Sweat of the Sun.

Released in 2018 Satanath Records/Cimmerian Shade Recordings/Murdher Records

Track listing
1. Amulets of Smoke and Fire 3:42
2. Dragon of the Primordial Sea 3:22
3. Throne of Shamash 2:50
4. Through the Stargate 2:35
5. Erishkigal: Kingdom of Death 4:03
6. Pazuzu: Harbinger of Darkness 4:09
7. Akashic Field: Enter Arcana Catacombs 7:05
8. God of Creation (feat. Brian Palmer) 3:22
9. Sweat of the Sun 5:59
10. Apophis: The Serpent of Rebirth 5:49
11. Golden Serpent God 2:44

Band members
Wyatt Houseman – vocals
Jerred Houseman – all instruments

Guest musicians
Brian Palmer – guitars on “God of Creation”
Rose White – female vocals

Album Review – Ritual Aesthetic / Wound Garden (2018)

One of Denver’s most promising metal outfits returns with a hard-hitting album of terrifying digital aggression, blending melodic dance rhythms, harsh metal guitars and dark experimental noise atmospheres.

Formed in 2013 in Denver, Colorado, in the United States by Sean Ragan (also known as Sean Von Helvete), who was drumming for Los Angeles-based Industrial/Melodic Black Metal band Dawn of Ashes at that time, Industrial Metal outfit Ritual Aesthetic returns in 2018 with their second full-length installment titled Wound Garden, not only a follow-up to their 2014 debut release Decollect, but more important than that, a highly recommended album of terrifying digital aggression for fans of the most demented form of industrial music, blending melodic dance rhythms, harsh metal guitars, aggressive EBM styled vocals and dark experimental noise atmospheres.

What was born as a solo project by Sean quickly evolved into a full-bodied mechanized beast, now featuring the aforementioned Sean on vocals, Grant Nachbur on the guitar, Daniel Combs on bass and Jeremy Portz on drums, delivering high-quality, berserk Industrial Metal through their sharp instruments. Written by Sean and Jeremy together with Alex Crescioni and Ron Hutchinson, engineered by Sean in Denver, and mixed and mastered by Alex Crescioni at Stygian Sound in Los Angeles, Wound Garden is a step forward in the career of Ritual Aesthetic, showcasing a focused and talented band that definitely knows how to effectively travel between the worlds of electronic and metal music, always sounding fresh, vibrant and insane for our total delectation.

An ominous and mechanized intro named Stasis kicks off the album by setting the stage for the sonic onrush entitled Life Amnesia, where the quartet gives a lesson in lunacy, blasting piercing, industrialized sounds spearheaded by Sean and his eccentric roars. Furthermore, the song’s background electronic effects help boost its impact even more, not to mention Jeremy’s assembly line-like pounding beats. And The Analog Flesh feels almost like an ode to the thunderous music by giants like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and Fear Factory, blending the most powerful elements from Industrial Metal and Neue Deutsche Härte, with the guitar lines by Grant being at the same time very subtle but as venomous as hell.

And it looks like their wicked party has no time to end, as they blast another dense and disruptive Industrial Metal tune titled Divided, where the guitars and background keys create an interesting paradox of sounds while Sean continues his ode to madness through his raspy growls; followed by the slower, darker and more demonic Dread, showcasing creepy guitar lines and vocalizations, as well as a heavy as hell atmosphere, cutting our skin deep from the very first second just like what happens in Malefaktor, a modernized wall of industrial and robotic sounds and noises. Throughout this insane tune, Daniel and Jeremy beautifully generate a rumbling and Stygian base for Sean and his demented vocals.

If you think their regular music is not weird enough for your twisted mind, you’ll have a sonic orgasm with the rest of the album, where Ritual Aesthetic offer the best of the metal and electronic worlds combined. The first remixed tune of this wicked combo is called Mechanism Of Desire (Electronic Substance Abuse Remix), being highly recommended for lovers of pure industrial and electronic music, sounding as crazy and eccentric as it can be with the help of their friends from British Industrial Noise project Electronic Substance Abuse. Then it’s time for American Industrial Metal act Seraphim System to experiment with Ritual Aesthetic’s music in Chemical Weapons (Seraphim System Remix), also bringing forth a metallic, industrialized extravaganza of sounds, almost like the soundtrack to a horror movie. And last but not least, it’s American Dark Electro entity Xentrifuge who adds huge dosages of electricity to the song Amnesiac (Xentrifuge Remix), with Sean’s vocals matching perfectly the music proposed.

In a nutshell, if you’re searching for a crisp and heavy alternative in the world of Industrial Metal, Ritual Aesthetic are among us to offer you exactly what you’re craving in the form of Wound Garden, which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to such distinct entity from the always fruitful underground Industrial Metal scene by paying a visit to their official Facebook page, and grab your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Cleopatra Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. And then, as soon as you have Wound Garden on your hands, let your soul be embraced by its hard-hitting mechanized sounds. You won’t regret having that wicked experience at all.

Best moments of the album: The Analog Flesh and Divided.

Worst moments of the album: Dread.

Released in 2018 Cleopatra Records

Track listing 
1. Stasis 1:29
2. Life Amnesia 4:27
3. The Analog Flesh 3:32
4. Divided 4:33
5. Dread 3:12
6. Malefaktor 4:33
7. Mechanism Of Desire (Electronic Substance Abuse Remix) 6:58
8. Chemical Weapons (Seraphim System Remix) 3:23
9. Amnesiac (Xentrifuge Remix) 5:11

Band members
Sean Ragan – vocals
Grant Nachbur – guitar
Daniel Combs – bass
Jeremy Portz – drums

Album Review – Violent Life Violent Death / Come, Heavy Breath EP (2018)

Take a deep breath and enjoy a vicious and nostalgic feast of heavy sounds made in the United States, proving modern-day Metalcore can be just as pulverizing as old school extreme music.

Hailing from Charlotte, the most populous city in the U.S. state of North Carolina, the incendiary Metalcore unity known as Violent Life Violent Death made their mark in late 2016 with the release of their first studio offering, V-EP, a five-track vicious, nostalgic effort blending the most visceral elements of Metalcore with hints of heavier-than-hell genres such as Thrash and Death Metal. Now in 2018 the band formed by vocalist Scott Cowan, guitarists Joseph Benham and Joey Park, bassist Justin Campbell and drummer David Holquin returns with a refreshed and even more ruthless contribution in the form of their second release, a brand new EP entitled Come, Heavy Breath, proving modern-day Metalcore can be just as pulverizing as old school extreme music.

“Our goal was to create a piece of music that had nostalgic qualities to it but with a new-school edge. Having spent some time in other bands has definitely helped create the sound we have adapted with this band, as we took a good look into what we feel has worked and not worked for us in the past and narrowed it down,” said Violent Life Violent Death, also explaining a little more the concept behind their new EP. “With Come, Heavy Breath, we really wanted to illustrate moments of fervor that draw a gasp, or, a heavy breath, as the title depicts. These are the moments of awe that we each experience in life, whether they be conjured through excitement, joy, sadness, loss, lust, love, wonder, etc., while bringing them each to life through our music in as straight forward of a manner possible, demanding the attention of the listener.”

The title-track Come, Heavy Breath, an austere and dynamic Metalcore tune tailored for disturbing the peace of your neighborhood, couldn’t have started in a more distorted and violent way, with Scott beginning his growling attack while Justin and David generate a brutal neck-breaking ambience with their metallic weapons, whereas in Backbiter the band puts pedal to the metal in a sonic onslaught of contemporary Metalcore infused with Melodic Death Metal and traditional Death Metal elements, with the guitar duo Joseph and Joey being on absolute fire with their crushing riffs while Scott screams almost like if he was not human. Put differently, this magnificent song lives up not only to the band’s own name, but also to the legacy of the most violent forms of Metalcore and Hardcore. And in Rot they keep the level of aggressiveness and destruction extremely high, with the razor-edged sound of the guitars inspiring us all to slam into the pit while David also adds his touch of adrenaline to the music through his fierce and straightforward beats.

Mourn is another tune perfect for cracking your spine in half headbanging and for jumping up and down with the band, with the vocals by Scott sounding even more deranged and furious, making it quite impossible to stand still to such demonic display of modern metal music, and there’s no sign of the band slowing down as we face the next song in the EP, entitled Lovers/Deceivers. Quite the contrary, Violent Life Violent Death blast sheer aggression from their instruments, with highlights to the amazing synchronicity between David’s beats and Joseph and Joey’s infernal riffs. And as the last act in Come, Heavy Breath it’s time to roar and gnarl together with Scott during the six minutes of classy Metalcore featured in the song Narcissist, bringing some welcome elements and nuances from Thrash Metal, which in the end translates into an accelerated pace, groovier bass lines, and obviously not a single second of peace, with Joseph and Joey sounding crisp, raw and very melodic at the same time until the music fades into a somber and menacing finale.

After all is said and done, the excellent Come, Heavy Breath, which is by the way available for a full listen on YouTube, will certainly help Violent Life Violent Death cement their name as one of the most promising (and one of the heaviest) Metalcore acts of the past few years, leaving us eager for more of their flammable music. And in order to show your support to those five metallers from Charlotte, you can go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and purchase Come, Heavy Breath from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, as well as from iTunes or Amazon. And when you have the album on your hands, simply take a deep, heavy breath and enjoy Violent Life Violent Death’s chaotic onrush of sounds just the way the band itself expects you to do.

Best moments of the album: Backbiter and Mourn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing 
1. Come, Heavy Breath 3:51
2. Backbiter 3:39
3. Rot 2:50
4. Mourn 3:41
5. Lovers/Deceivers 2:10
6. Narcissist 6:05

Band members
Scott Cowan – vocals
Joseph Benham – guitar
Joey Park – guitar
Justin Campbell – bass
David Holquin – drums

Album Review – Unflesh / Savior (2018)

A dark, aggressive and extremely technical opus of Blackened and Melodic Death Metal by a four-headed American beast, sounding as pulverizing as extreme music can be.

Forged in 2014 in the fires of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in the United States as a solo project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Beevers (Solium Fatalis), who’s by the way a student at the highly prestigious Berklee College Of Music, but currently located in Boston, Massachusetts, Blackened Melodic Death Metal four-piece squad Unflesh has been on a roll since their inception, having already released an excellent EP in 2016 titled Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity (which featured the astounding German drummer Hannes Grossmann as a session musician), followed by their new and insanely heavy and entertaining album Savior. Featuring a beautiful and menacing artwork by Brazilian artist Junki Sakuraba, Savior will strongly appeal to fans of the unparalleled music by bands such as Dissection, Necrophagist, Emperor, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Dimmu Borgir, among others, placing the band comprised of the aforementioned Ryan Beevers on vocals and guitar,  Chris Gardino (Pathogenic, Wolfsmyth) on the guitar, Peter De Reyna (Seven Spires) on bass and Chris Dovas (Seven Spires) on drums as one of the most promising names of the current underground scene.

Ryan Beevers himself had a few words to say regarding Savior, giving more details on the direction he wanted to follow with his brainchild.  “I’ve always thought of the band as having a kind of mixed sound of 90’s black metal and more technical death metal bands. Since the band started I just called us “Extreme Metal” because it’s a broader label. I never thought the sound of the band would be described as just black metal or death metal. When the first EP “Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity” came out, most people seemed to identify the sound as technical death metal. This album is one more step forward in molding the sound of Unflesh, musically and lyrically the ‘Savior’ album is a lot darker and more aggressive than our previous EP,” said Ryan about his new opus, one that he definitely should be proud of, and one we should all thank him for providing to us, avid metalheads.

An eerie piano intro grows in intensity until progressiveness and sheer devastation invade our senses in the opening track Savior, thanks to the fulminating riffs by Ryan and Chris Gardino as well as the bestial drumming by Chris Dovas. In other words, it’s a dense and intricate depiction of modern-day Progressive and Melodic Death Metal, and a fantastic welcome card by the entire band. Following such breathtaking beginning we have Bestowal of Decay, bringing an avalanche of groove and complexity, being even more demonic than the opening tune with Ryan sounding hellish and demented on vocals, all complemented by some sick guitar solos and some ass-kicking, classic Death Metal lyrics (“The great fade of all life in the dawn / A blissful perception of the fathomless darkness obtained / Primeval scriptures deciphered before the mortal eyes / By forsaken powers of Unanimation / Unveiled”); and their destructive but very harmonious onrush of Black and Death Metal goes on in Final Writhe, an incendiary tune led by the mesmerizing riffs and solos by both Ryan and Chris Gardino, with Chris Dovas showing no mercy for his drum set while Peter brings density and darkness to the music with his unstoppable punches.

More rhythmic and presenting what’s perhaps the most intricate and thrilling beats of the entire album, always supported by Peter’s thunderous bass, Erosive Devotees presents an enraged Ryan growling and screaming nonstop, turning it into one of the top moments of the album, whereas in The Eradication Commenced the band fires more of their electrifying Blackened and Melodic Death Metal with no sign of slowing down at all. Quite the contrary, the band’s stringed trio is on fire from start to finish, slashing our ears beautifully while Chris Dovas adds hints of Doom and Black Metal to his beats and fills. And Caliginous is an even more progressive and melodic tune by Unflesh, with Ryan gnarling in perfect sync with the guitar lines and beats blasted by the rest of the band. Put differently, you can break your neck headbanging or simply close your eyes and enjoy the complex music waves of this multi-layered extravaganza. Either way, you’re going to have an awesome time.

Then a pulverizing display of dexterity and rage waits for us in Desecration of Light, a circle pit-catalyst with all ingredients we love in contemporary Extreme Metal where Chris Dovas will crush your skull with his demonic beats, while Ryan and Chris Gardino have an exciting guitar duel with their wicked riffs and solos, before a superb guitar solo introduces us to another scorching hot voyage through the realms of violence and progressiveness in Disintegration God, ending with another gorgeous guitar solo until everything fades into ethereal sounds, with its classic lyrics being the icing on the cake (“And the somber thrives as animation subsides / When all designed under a star descends into infinity / Predestined fall, all-encompassing fade of life / It corrodes away before the throne of Death / And into its sacred lore”).

In order to let Unflesh penetrate deep inside your mortal flesh with the top-tier metal music found in Savior, simply pay them a visit at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and buy your copy of the album form their own BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. The monstrous beast known as Unflesh is more menacing, violent and cohesive than ever, and I’m sure not only the band’s talented originator is happy with the devastating potential of his infernal spawn, but also anyone else who loves the perfect fusion of aggressiveness, feeling and technique in extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Bestowal of Decay, Erosive Devotees and Desecration of Light.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Savior 5:04
2. Bestowal of Decay 5:23
3. Final Writhe 5:13
4. Erosive Devotees 5:22
5. The Eradication Commenced 5:13
6. Caliginous 5:17
7. Desecration of Light 4:26
8. Disintegration God 5:35

Band members
Ryan Beevers – vocals, guitars
Chris Gardino – guitars
Peter De Reyna – bass
Chris Dovas – drums

Guest musician
Anthony Lusk-Simone – additional orchestral elements

Metal Chick of the Month – Jill Janus (September 2, 1975 – August 14, 2018)

“The dark, the dark… The darkness falls on you. The dark, the dark… The darkness swallows you.” – The Dark, by Huntress

It took me a while to think of a proper beginning to this posthumous tribute to the talented and gorgeous metal vocalist Jill Janus, frontwoman for one of the most promising metal acts of the past few years, California-based Heavy Metal squad Huntress, but as I mentioned HERE she was going to me our metal chick one day no matter what. Owner of an extremely powerful and captivating voice, delivering beautiful high-pitched screams that were capable of putting a huge and genuine smile on the face of the Metal God himself Rob Halford, Jill unfortunately committed suicide this past August 14, 2018 outside of Portland, Oregon at the age of 42, after years battling against her inner demons. In this humble tribute, let’s remember the life and career of Jill, her bands and projects, her contribution to heavy music, her fight against mental illness, and bang our heads and raise our horns to her flammable Heavy Metal, because she might be gone from this world, but her spirit undoubtedly lives on.

Born on September 2, 1975 in Catskill Mountains, a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains, located approximately 160 km north-northwest of New York City and 60 km southwest of Albany, Jill was always very reserved about her personal life, much to the impact her mental disorder had to her memories. All we know is that Jill, a huge fan of bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Lamb of God, started her musical journey as a child performing opera in Upstate New York, and that as a teenager she traveled to Europe taking on coloratura soprano roles and was awarded a scholarship to the American Musical Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. She was such an intense musician that even during her relatively short career she was able to make a significant impact on the scene, taking part of several amazing projects and bands since the beginning. For instance, Jill, who was a trained opera singer according to several sources, was not only the voice for Huntress, but also the singer for acts such as Chelsea Girls, Vexy Strut, Under the Covers and The Starbreakers, not to mention her future project that was going to be called Victory: The Rock Opera, and her time as a Playboy model and as a topless DJ, being known as either Penelope Tuesdae or simply Tuesdae in some of these endeavors.

In regards to her career with Huntress, and I might say that I personally consider Jill and Huntress to be one single entity, the band was “unofficially” founded in 2007 when Jill released two demo songs, those being Back from the Dead to Kill and Call of the Wild, to be used as “bait” for potential musicians for her band. It was in 2010 when Jill joined forces with underground Heavy Metal band Professor in Highland Park, California to finally form the Huntress we learned to admire, always true to the roots of Heavy Metal with hints of Thrash, Death and Black Metal and with Jill being responsible for the vocal duties with her breathtaking Amazonian-inspired 4-octave vocal range as well as for the lyrics, releasing right away a three-song EP titled Off with Her Head, containing the songs Off With Her Head, Hollow Hills and The Creeper. Singing about occult and obscure topics such as witchcraft, sorcery and witch hunters, Huntress then released three incendiary full-length albums in the span of four years, starting with their debut opus Spell Eater, in 2012, followed by Starbound Beast, in 2013, and finally Static, in 2015, leading the band to tour the world as a supporting act to several metal heavyweights like Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, Kreator, Amon Amarth, Killswitch Engage, Testament, Danzig, Trivium, Sabaton and Dragonforce. You can purchase all three albums directly from their BandCamp page, and remember Jill’s extraordinary voice on YouTube with the videos for the songs Sorrow, Zenith, Spell Eater and Flesh.

In an interview Jill gave to a metal webzine from Brazil called Portal do Inferno in 2014 (you can check the full interview HERE in both Brazilian Portuguese and English), she explained the band’s discography as her spiritual journey through three elements and a tribute to the Goddess in her three forms, the maiden, the mother, and the crone, with each one of her three albums representing one of those elements. Spell Eater was the maiden, sounding ferocious and raw; Starbound Beast was the mother, more thoughtful and showcasing better musicianship and songwriting; and Static was the crone, being vicious, brutal and consequently heavier and darker. During that same interview, Jill provided some details about her partnership with the one and only Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.), who wrote the lyrics for the excellent song I Want to Fuck You to Death from the album Starbound Beast. Jill said they were good friends, that they would meet at the Rainbow in Los Angeles for drinks, that one day she asked him to write a song for her and, voilà, Lemmy gave her two pieces of paper with the lyrics to the song, which according to Jill herself was at that time “the most romantic thing a man had ever done to her.”

Furthermore, if live performances are your cup of tea, or in other words, if you deeply need to see an artist or band playing live to know if they’re actually good, you can have a really good time watching some live footage from Jill and her Huntress on YouTube, such as their acoustic version for Blood Sisters in 2013 at the 100.3 the X studios, which by the way was the first time ever the band has done a live acoustic performance; a live version of the song Spell Eater in 2012; their performance of the song Senecide at the Tidal Wave Festival 2012 in San Francisco, California (courtesy of Capital Chaos TV); and the song The Tower live at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012, on tour with Dragonforce. Hence, it’s ass-kicking performances like those that will keep the name of Jill Janus resonating in the air waves through the years.

Her contribution to other metal and rock bands and projects was also superb, with the most interesting one being the Los Angeles-based all-female supergroup The Starbreakers, comprised of Jill on vocals together with guitarists Nita Strauss (We Start Wars, Alice Cooper, Iron Maidens) and Courtney Cox (Iron Maidens, Femme Fatale), bassist Emily Ruvidich (Paradise Kitty, Misty Day), and drummer Lindsay Martin (We Start Wars, Wasi Wasi, The Aviators). Formed in 2017, the main goal of those five blonde metallers was simply to rock like there’s no tomorrow by playing songs from their metal heroes, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube for you to have a sonic blast with the girls. For example, you can check them kicking some serious ass by playing several classics such as Judas Priest’s all-time metal hymn Painkiller and Dio’s undisputed hit Holy Diver at The Viper Room, in West Hollywood on March 11, 2017, during their first ever live performance; Metallica’s roaring tune Master of Puppets also at The Viper Room in 2017; and Megadeth’s breathtaking classic Hangar 18 at Whisky A Go Go, in West Hollywood earlier this year.

All her other projects are just as fun and interesting, starting with the Chelsea Girls, an all-girl cover band formed by Jill together with Samantha Maloney (Hole, Motley Crüe), Allison Robertson (The Donnas), and Corey Parks (Nashville Pussy), with the band’s name referencing an Andy Warhol flick. She was also the vocalist (under the name Tuesdae) for Vexy Strut from 2003 to 2006, a New York-based Hard Rock band where all other band members were guys, playing music in the veins of Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses with overtly sexual and cocky lyrics; she sang along with Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) in an acoustic project called Under the Covers for a while (and you can check some photos of the duo HERE); and last but not least, Jill and Angus Clark of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra have recently announced a “Rock n’ Roll romance of innocence and lust” named Victory: The Rock Opera, telling the tale of Victory, an internet sensation and a social media superstar whose God-like reach has given hope to the desolate and deranged. There are some demos available on their official website, but no one knows for sure what will happen with the entire project after Jill’s death. Apart from her career as a singer, as aforementioned she was also a topless DJ under the pseudonym Penelope Tuesdae, and if you’re curious to see what she was like at that time you can check some NSFW photos HERE, as well as a behind the scenes photo shoot on Vimeo. If you think Jill was ashamed of her endeavor as a topless DJ, you’re absolutely wrong. “I was living in New York City and needed cash. So I learned how to DJ, but added a gimmick to make more money. I did it topless. A few years later, I have Playboy to thank for legitimizing topless DJ’ing as a lucrative business, although I quit when Vexy Strut was formed. That was my goal all along – to get your attention as a singer and songwriter. So what – I showed you my boobs. Mission accomplished!”, said our diva in one of her interviews.

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Jill’s standpoint regarding her classical music and opera background is also very interesting, as she told Portal do inferno during the same interview mentioned  before that she was always listening to opera singers and classical music, especially Maria Callas due to her vocal richness and skills, that her classical training helped her support her metal voice, and that she was very strict separating metal from opera. The reason for that split was that she never liked Symphonic Metal, calling it “easy listening” metal, showing she was indeed a tough old school metalhead with great passion for the more straightforward, ass-kicking and no-shenanigans-nor-preservatives type of metal. As a matter of fact, just take a listen at any of the Huntress albums and you’ll notice there’s nothing there that’s not deeply rooted in old school metal and rock music, and that’s one of the reasons why she was so loved by several icons like Lemmy and Halford.

When asked about being a female artist in an environment mostly dominated by men, she said she loved being the only girl on tour, calling the rest of the band and all other bands as her brothers, who used to take good care of her. She was also asked to give some advice to any female metal singers starting their careers, and her answer to that was quite direct: she said any girl should go after her vocal coach Melissa Cross, who has already worked with tons of other amazing vocalists such as Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Angela Gossow, former singer for Arch Enemy, due to the exceptional job she does with singers, warming them up, training them, teaching them how to take good care of their voices, among other awesome tips and activities. She also said during that same interview she was never afraid of using her sexuality and sex appeal to draw her listeners “close to the flame”, as she considered herself a witch and a pagan, becoming very natural for her to be nude. I have to admit being naked was something so natural and easy for her it was far from being something dirty or porn, but simply the way she found to better connect to her inner self and to nature itself.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to write a tribute to Jill now without talking about her recent death on August 14 this year (check this video summarizing this sad event HERE). She had always been very open over the years about her mental illness in the form of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and alcoholism, which resulted in several struggles throughout her life. Also diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2015 while the band was working on Static, she was able to win that personal battle after undergoing a hysterectomy, being declared cancer-free later. In an interview to Revolver, she described how the schizoaffective disorder evolved into full schizophrenia, which affected her in her 20’s and continued until her death. She said “I was suicidal constantly. I was very suicidal early on in my life. Then in my mid-20’s, it shifted to full-blown mania, where I can’t really remember much of my 20’s. I can’t remember anybody from high school, either. I lost my long-term memory and can’t remember names, faces, or even places. We’ll be at a venue on tour and Blake will be, like, ‘We’ve played here two times before,’ but I’ll have no recollection.” Jill told Psychology Today in a 2015 interview that she attempted suicide for the first time at the age of 16 “with a pair of scissors. I was getting mandatory counseling at school but didn’t see a psychiatrist until I was 20,” she said. “I was then diagnosed manic-depressive and participated in a medical study at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.” She was eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, telling Psychology Today “I’ve always seen and heard things others couldn’t. Many visions or dreams would manifest into reality, which my family and friends described as my ‘psychic ability.’ This caused more drama at school, being called a ‘freak’ and getting beaten up. When I was 17, the visions and encounters with ‘other-worldly creatures’ was almost a daily occurrence.”

Some of the most interesting and peculiar parts of her interview with Psychology Today are a very good depiction of how serious any type of mental illness can be, impacting not only the life of the person suffering from it but also everyone else living around this person. For instance, one of the ways that her mental illness manifested was that she created different “characters” or “identities” and was eventually diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Dissociative identity disorder is characterized as having two or more distinct personality states. People often forget parts of their life as they cannot recall experiences from one personality state when they are in a distinct, separate personality state. She described these different “characters” this way: “As a child, I had a very active imagination and would pretend to be characters I created. This seems normal for a kid, but then I started seeing these characters and they’d take over my body. It felt like being possessed like in the movies. I could shed it easily as a child, but when I hit my 20’s, it became very difficult to shake it.” She complemented by saying “I spent 10 years as ‘Penelope Tuesday,’ the persona I initially created to conceal my true identity as I worked the NYC nightlife scene. I cannot remember much of my life during those years, except through stories from my friends and family. I was manic, fiercely ambitious and slept very little. I was not drinking or abusing drugs during my time in New York. My family became very worried and moved me home to get help after discovering I had breast-augmentation surgery. But I wasn’t aware that I had done this until a few weeks later when I snapped back to reality and saw I had breast implants. It was terrifying. I spent time at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York, and was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder).”

She also explained how the bias manifested in her youth. “I was embarrassed about being perceived as ‘crazy.’ As a kid I was made to feel bad or was bullied for being different. As a child, I would make up things about myself to avoid seeming odd. This coping tactic got more intense after college and then I felt other personalities taking hold,” she said. “I used an alias for most of my life, keeping who I really was hidden. Only now am I capable of letting go of my various identities, but it’s still painful to feel vulnerable.” As time went on, she was able to find treatments that were effective in managing her mood and psychotic symptoms. She also said the combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy was effective for her. Cognitive-behavioral therapy often includes examining how one’s thoughts and behaviors may influence emotions and well-being, and how modifying thoughts and behaviors can improve clinical outcomes. In addition to that, she also found that her music was influential in her coping. Her experience is supported by research that shows that music therapy improves clinical outcomes among individuals with mental illness, including schizophrenia and mood disorders. “Music saved my life. My mother says I was singing before I could speak. I knew my purpose as soon as I could talk. It was always music. I relate to the mathematics behind music, it soothes my brain and helps me cope with my various disorders,” she said. “By the time I was 10, I was performing in operas and musicals. My vocal range developed quickly. I was using four octaves by 13. The discipline and focus was beyond my years. But I’ve never had much patience for people. I was always one step ahead. Music is the only way I ever knew how to cope.”

And you can notice how much Jill loved her music and metal in general, and how open she always was about her mental condition, by watching several interviews with her on Youtube, such as her chat with Brittney Patton in 2016 where she talks about mental illness, artwork, sobriety and other topics; talking about touring and her childhood to Rock Hard Megazine in 2012; an interview to Yell! Magazine during Heavy MTL in 2013; a two-part interview filmed by JAM Magazine on tour backstage at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas on November 2, 2013 (check part one HERE and part two HERE); an interview to Jeanette LeBlanc from The Heavy Press after a Huntress show at The Kool Haus, in Toronto in 2013; or simply watch this EPK published by Huntress in 2012 where Jill talks about the band and their music.

After Jill’s passing this August, several renowned artists and bands from the rock and metal scene shared their shock and sadness on social media, such as Rob Halford, Lzzy Hale, Alex Skolnick, johan Hegg, Starkill, DragonForce, Otep, Randy Blythe, Cristina Scabbia, Alissa White-Gluz, and obviously her boyfriend, bandmate and partner in crime Blake Meahl, among many, many others as you can see HERE and HERE, showing how respected, loved and admired Jill was her entire life and career, and that she was never alone despite all her mental issues. Having said that, if you or someone you know and love might be at risk of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (or use the Lifeline Chat) if you’re in the United States, reach out to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention if you live here in Canada, or any other support number or website from this international list of suicide crisis lines no matter where you are located in the world.

Jill Janus’ Official Instagram
Jill Janus’ Official Twitter
Huntress’ Official Facebook page
Huntress’ Official Twitter

“Once you decide to choose your purpose and live only for that purpose, that is when you will find success, and right now Huntress is it. I’m married to heavy metal and that is all that I have.” – Jill Janus

Album Review – Meka Nism / The War Inside EP (2018)

One of the most promising new names of the Orlando metal scene strikes again with an electrifying EP of modern-day Alternative Rock and Metal.

Formed back in 2006 under the name of Meka Nism and Her Rusty Tears, Orlando-based Alternative Metal act Meka Nism strikes again with a brand new EP titled The War Inside, following the same pattern of modern and metallic sounds from their three previous releases, those being their 2016 live album Live From the Machine,  the 2015 EP The Shift, and their 2013 debut EP The Dance at the End of the World, not to mention the 2006 album Mad to Love (released under the band’s original name).  Having shared the stage with heavyweight bands like Mastodon, Gojira, Sevendust, Hellyeah and Otep, among others, along with festival appearances at Kink Festival (Orlando, Florida), SXSW (Austin, Texas) and Breeding Festival (Germany), and named Orlando’s #1 Metal Band by Orlando Weekly in 2016, Meka Nism continue to carve their name in the scene, solidifying the band as one of the most interesting new names in Alternative Rock and Metal.

Comprised of vocalist Ms. Meka Nism (or simply Meka), who by the way was the former guitar player for Orlando punk legends Dirty Barby and Angel Autopsy, guitarists Bobby Keller and Danny Arrieta, bassist Jarret Robinson, keyboardist Jay Adkisson and drummer Nick Colvin, Meka Nism offer in The War Inside five distinct songs of passion and hatred, war and peace, sanity and madness, all embraced by the band’s modern and captivating sonority and led by Meka’s powerful vocals. If you’re searching for a nice female-fronted alternative in modern metal music, Meka Nism have all it takes to captivate your senses, with the music found in The War Inside being the perfect depiction of what this American six-piece squad is capable of.

The smooth keys by Jay Adkisson ignite the melodic and fresh title-track The War Inside, where Bobby and Danny are in total sync with their electrified riffs while Meka beautifully declaims the song’s passionate words (“Fighting Through the War Inside / Reaching from the chaos / Wait for me, I’ll wait for you / Nothing can keep us apart / Wait for me, I will find you!”). Less modernized and alternative, These Years of Silent Screams leans towards more traditional Heavy Metal, a neck-breaking tune by Meka Nism with the band’s eccentric frontwoman showcasing an amazing vocal performance. Then it’s time to slam into the pit together with the band in Trailblazer, led by the potent and precise drums by Nick, alternating between heavier moments and lighter, inspiring parts. Moreover, both guitars come slashing our skin mercilessly, while Meka thrives with both her demented growls and her clean vocals; and the keys by Jay help build a soothing ambience in Arrows of Alchemy, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Jarret in a semi-ballad that will please fans of the genre and that could easily be played on any rock n’ roll radio show, ending in a classy and touching way. And lastly, Black Sky (It’s Not Over Yet) is another song that begins as a heavy ballad highlighting Meka’s smooth voice and Jay’s enfolding piano notes, evolving into a heavier but still melancholic sonority before its poetic ending to the voice of Meka.

You can take a detailed listen at The War Inside on Spotify, follow Meka Nism on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase the EP from their own BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby. After listening to The War Inside, it will become clear to you as to why Meka Nism were chosen the best metal band based in Orlando by Orlando Weekly a couple of years ago, pointing to a bright future ahead for the band’s red-haired shaman and her loyal bandmates and leaving us eager for more of their music (and perhaps their first full-length album) in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Trailblazer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. The War Inside 4:49
2. These Years of Silent Screams 3:32
3. Trailblazer 4:32
4. Arrows of Alchemy 5:22
5. Black Sky (It’s Not Over Yet) 4:03

Band members
Ms. Meka Nism (Meka) – vocals
Bobby Keller – lead guitar
Danny Arrieta – rhythm guitar
Jarret Robinson – bass
Jay Adkisson – keys
Nick Colvin – drums